The power of music in leadership and the development of trust is widely recognised. So, too, is the value of face-to-face meetings, which, despite a battery of technological alternatives, are still commonplace in organizations. The possible synergies between music and meetings, however, have been overlooked. Managers are missing an opportunity to improve productivity, efficiency and teamwork. Is it time for music, long a feature of corporate events, to make it to the company meeting room?
Music transforms experience … from the humdrum, the everyday, into something else … Music is used in theater, it is used in movies, it is used to ratify revolutions … Other experiences transform our lives, but none so universally … [Music is] one of the most important of man’s activities, and one gauge of its importance is the universality, or near-universality, of its effect on the human mind.
David P. McAllester, ethnomusicologist, 1971.
The power of music and its ability to affect people in ways other art forms and the spoken or written word can’t is widely acknowledged by anthropologists and other academics. Making music has been associated with the release of the neuro-chemical oxytocin, known to be involved in the development of bonds between people and ‘in-group bias’ (see Idea #184); listening to music has been associated with the cognitive development of babies and children.
But what does music mean to managers? Anecdotal evidence and a review of the research suggest they are failing to see and exploit its full potential.
On the face of it, use of music by companies and other organizations is widespread. Enlightened factory managers play music to improve the morale of employees performing repetitive tasks; dentists and surgeons play it to calm and relax patients.
Music is a feature of almost every corporate event and award ceremony, used to rally the troops — or simply to entertain. The ubiquity of music in modern life, made possible by new technologies such as the iPod, is reflected in modern organizations.
There’s one area, however, from which it remains absent: the meeting room.
This is a failure that needs to be addressed. Meetings can be extremely inefficient, taking up a disproportionate amount of senior leadership and staff time — and music can help solve the problem.
In particular, there are five key and complementary aspects of the power of music that can be brought to bear on meetings.
So how can managers best explore the possibilities of music — and use it to make meetings better? Specific options include:
Ideas for Leaders is a free-to-access site. If you enjoy our content and find it valuable, please consider subscribing to our Developing Leaders Quarterly publication, this presents academic, business and consultant perspectives on leadership issues in a beautifully produced, small volume delivered to your desk four times a year.
For the less than the price of a coffee a week you can read over 650 summaries of research that cost universities over $1 billion to produce.
Use our Ideas to:
Speak to us on how else you can leverage this content to benefit your organization. email@example.com