LEADERSHIP / DEC. 09, 2015
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How Does Playing an Instrument Help You Lead a Company?

woman playing the violin
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Every good parent wants to provide opportunities for their children to flourish. One of the many ways they do so is by introducing their kids to the world of music. While it may, at first, simply be a way to pass down a passion and pastime to their children, parents might not realize the other benefits playing a musical instrument will have on a young boy or girl’s life. Those who embrace music as a way of life foster some of the most important skills needed to become a lifelong leader, including:

See Also: 10 Ways to Jumpstart Your Music Career

Increased Time Management Skills

Musicians are masters of time. They simply have to be in order to succeed. While playing, they have to be able to keep a steady beat in order to keep up with the rest of the band and to create a rhythm for the audience. Musicians are not only attentive to time when it comes to playing music, but also when it comes to the tasks associated with playing as well. They know it takes x minutes to set up, y minutes to warm up, and z minutes to play through a set. This attention to detail is incredibly important when leading a team, as it’s necessary to be able to estimate how long a specific task should take to perform, so they know how to set realistic expectations for their team of workers.

Increased Teamwork

Playing an instrument requires you to be completely in sync with your bandmates. While timing has a lot to do with this, it’s not everything. A band relies on visual and audio cues from each other to know when to speed up, slow down, play louder or softer, and when to transition into the next part of a jam. For the most part, they do all of this without saying a single word to each other. The ability to do all this comes from years of working together and truly understanding one another. A musician can transfer this ability to a leadership position by figuring out ways in which to make his team come together and work in league with each other. Through a combination of team-building exercises and experience, a leader can make sure his team is always on the same page and working toward a common goal.

Increased Perseverance

Even the best musicians of all time were once beginners who couldn’t even play a single scale on their respective instrument. But while some people fall back on the excuse that they’re not “musically inclined,” others pushed past the difficulty and mastered their trade. Although some people are definitely musically talented, their gift only got them so far. These virtuosos set goals for themselves, and stop at nothing until they surpass them. And upon reaching these goals, they immediately set the bar even higher, and keep pushing themselves. The parallel to a leadership position here, should be obvious. Leaders are never content with “good enough”; they always want to do better. They have faith in themselves and their team that anything is possible with hard work and dedication. And they understand that the more difficult a task is, the more important it is to succeed in it.

Increased Responsibility and Discipline

This goes along with the last point, in that musicians must discipline themselves in order to succeed. Like I said before, even the most talented musician would never have amounted to anything if he hadn’t set a strict practice regimen and stuck to it on a daily basis. While some might skip a practice session with the excuse that they had other obligations to fulfill, the dedicated musician will make time for his instrument, regardless of the sacrifices he has to make in order to do so. If he sets a deadline for reaching a musical goal, he won’t let anything get in the way of reaching it by the denoted time. Leaders need to have this same drive and initiative at all times when working on a project. Compromising just once opens the door for employees to make excuse after excuse each and every day as to why they couldn’t perform to the best of their ability. While leaders must be careful to set realistic expectations, they need to also maintain these expectations for all of their employees each and every day.

Increased Concentration

Musicians, know the importance of attaining what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls “flow” during their sessions. If you’ve ever seen video of Jerry Garcia play guitar, you know exactly what flow is. It’s when you’re completely enveloped in the task at hand to the point that the world around you fades away, and all that seems to exist is you and your tools. Not only does a leader need to be able to attain flow himself, but he also needs to allow his team to get into a simultaneous flow as well. If he’s constantly breaking concentration by multitasking or jumping from one thing to another, his team’s productivity will surely falter. However, by streamlining every process and project his team undertakes, a leader can ensure that their productivity flows from one task to the next, seamlessly. 

Increased Communication Skills

It should be pretty obvious that all musicians - I guess with the exception of Beethoven - rely heavily on their listening skills in order to succeed. But this isn’t just about the notes they hear; it’s also about the information they take in, in order to learn. They need to be able to take suggestions from their bandmates and other experts in the field in order to increase their abilities. And they definitely can’t work with the attitude that they’re right, everyone else is wrong, and they’re the absolute best musician in the world. On the same token, leaders have to sometimes take a step back and listen to what their teammates have to say. Although the supervisor is obviously “in charge,” that doesn’t necessarily mean they are more talented than their employees in all aspects. In fact, each member of the team brings something special to the table, and each of them deserves to have their voice heard. It’s the leader’s job to make sure this happens.

Increased Ability to Stand Out

Most successful musicians absolutely love being center stage. They are confident in their ability to “wow” a crowd, and live for the nights when they can get everyone up on their feet and dancing. A great leader needs to have that same outgoing personality. Sometimes, talking the talk is just as important as walking the walk. Though humility does have its place in leadership qualities, sometimes it’s important to stand up and show off just how great your team is. And there’s no shame in taking credit when it’s due, just as long as you don’t hog the spotlight and show off too much.

See Also: 5 Jobs for Music Lovers

Like I said, some people are naturally gifted in specific areas. Some are born with an ear for music, while others are born to blaze their own path in life. But, again, those born with certain talents are not destined for greatness; they create greatness through the work they do in life. It just so happens that those who take a liking to music end up sharpening the skills necessary to become great leaders.

What about you? Do you play any musical instruments? Do you agree with the above points? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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