Team building with the Bucharest Symphonic Orchestra

48 hours before the end of 2018 I enjoyed the traditional annual concert of the Bucharest Symphonic Orchestra. Aside from the enchantment of world renowned waltzes, the evening presented some important lessons in team building that I was quite surprised to find in this event.

As I was enjoying the music I marveled at the phenomenon: how the composer put all of this amazing music on paper in the coded language of musical notes, how each member of the orchestra, knowing only their bit contribute to the whole in an inextricable way, how the conductor does serve a purpose even if each of the orchestra members is an expert. An orchestra, especially one performing in a sold-out-5K-spectators hall taught me or reminded me of valuable lessons for successful team work:

  1. You are not going anywhere if you do not know where you are going. The vision must be clear, just like the composer puts together the score of a waltz that moves hearts. Without a common goal, any team is but a scattered group of experts – most probably arguing about the end game.
  2. In order for the team results to be extraordinary, each and every one of its members must be cherry picked, with the vision in mind. They should be open minded experts who recognize their gift and, at the same time, understand that the vision can only be achieved alongside the others.
  3. It is not necessary for the conductor / the leader to know exactly how to play the violin, the piano, or how to pinch the harp, his role is to oversee (overhear) the way the work comes together and provide pointers for the right direction. The leader interprets the vision, proposes a strategy and trusts the team he put together to best fulfill it. Acknowledging the value of expert opinion and never losing sight of the vision, the leader must be able to listen to each pitch in and set each piece of the puzzle in its place or set it aside.
  4. There is no such thing as a redundant member of the team – each has a role in fulfilling the vision, even if a small one. As I was listening to one of the best known Strauss waltzes last night I noticed a lady in the last row of the orchestra whose only job during this particular song was to rhythmically sound the triangle. She must have done this maybe only 10 times during the entire waltz but the piece would not have been the same without her bit. The triangle, though small and rarely heard, added a nuance that led us more precisely the vision.
  5. The degree of enthusiasm and professionalism the team puts into their work is directly proportional with the engagement of their audience. The moments when the large public was engaged were bits of the concert when it was clear everyone on the stage enjoyed themselves, worked in sync and put their best foot forward. Not necessarily to please the audience but to achieve the vision, create something outstanding.

It was mesmerizing to see how quite a large group of people were able to achieve such wonderful harmony and I realized that the secret is “simple”: presence. When we are fully present with the others, wholeheartedly sharing our gift and non-judgmentally opening ourselves to the gift of others, amazing things happen.

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