The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology


Symphony: Trust Your Section Leads

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It’s pretty amazing when you watch a symphony or orchestra work.  You see the conductor doing her thing front and center.  You see violins sitting together in perfect coordination, and all the other instruments doing the same.  What is actually happening is sometimes a surprise.  Most members of the symphony are only taking casual direction from the conductor.  In truth, they are all watching their section leads.  Each section lead provides what could simply be called exaggerated gesturing to communicate the style and tempo of play.
What is also interesting is that most of the section leads are also giving only casual direction from the conductor – although admittedly more so than the non-lead members of the symphony.  Most leads are watching both the conductor and the first violin.  They take most of their playing cues from the first violin as well as other minor adjustments from the conductor.
The conductor must have complete faith in the direct subordinates to take her vision, interpret it correctly, ad then re-communicate that vision and direction to the rest of the symphony.  Simply put, the conductor cannot manage each of the many players individually, if she tries to do so, she will only fail.  To be successful, the conductor has to trust that the lead violin and other section leads can execute their jobs.  She should really only have to provide direction to that immediate tier.
All too often, we see managers who try to micro-manage at every level of their organizations, just to drive them away.  Direct subordinates who should be managing, are not allowed to do so and are thus made irrelevant.  Employees don’t necessarily appreciate this type of attention from top leadership either.  In the end, control freaks are not effective.  The section leads know what to do, they just need to understand vision and strategy – not a heavy hand.

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