Tag Archives: leadership

Something to sing about

concert posterThere has been much discussion recently about football managers, their relationships with the players and, by extension, their influence on match results. There are well-known studies of the effect a new manager taking charge of a failing team can have – achieving instant success (if only for a game or two).

On the same day in December 2015 that the Guardian newspaper published an article by Oliver Burkeman explaining why singing in a choir makes you happy, I discovered the benefit of having a new team manager (or Musical Director to be more accurate) in charge of our local choir – the Royston Choral Society.

I started singing in the choir in 2000. I missed the team-work associated with playing football and I felt that my physical fitness could do with a boost. I started running for fitness and joined the choir for the team-work. The running also helped when I was late for our weekly rehearsals…

And that’s been the case for the past 15 years with a Musical Director who lived music 24 hours a day and showcased the best the choir could manage for up to five concerts a year. I suppose I’d accepted that we’d achieved a creditable standard but didn’t have the potential to do much more.

But then poor health forced our incumbent Musical Director to step down and, in September of this year, we ‘signed’ a new manager. For me this was both scary and exciting having only sung under the leadership of the previous conductor.  After a comprehensive interview process there was agreement between choir members and the panel as to who was the best of the three candidates.

And we are now discovering how right we were with the appointment. When I joined I was told that singing in the choir was firstly about having fun and secondly about making a good sound. We’re now doing both by the bucket-load!

Our new Musical Director and conductor Andrew O’Brien has managed, in just three months, to convince us we can perform better, to sing with feeling (if that doesn’t sound too pretentious) and to sing at a higher standard than I could ever have imagined – all with largely the same group of (ageing) singers.

Our December Christmas concert was an amazing experience – for both choir and audience. Two concert-goers mouthed ‘wow’ after one of our pieces; I’ve never seen that happen before in my 15 years with the Royston Choral Society.

In football, the instant success of the new manager is often followed by a swift slide back to more familiar poor results. I refuse to believe our musical team will return to a lower division while our new manager Andy is in the dugout.

Oliver Burkeman’s article on the delights of singing in a choir is at http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/dec/18/why-singing-makes-people-happy-oliver-burkeman

An A – Z of social entrepreneurship: L – O

L & M – Leadership and Management

Management is about now, leadership is about the future; one implements goals, the other sets them; one relies on control, the other inspires trust; one deals in rational processes, the other in emotional horizons.” Amin Rajan

Another useful distinction comes from Lord Bilimoria, founder of Cobra Beer, who suggests that “leaders make things possible, managers make things happen”.

Either way it’s good to try not to confuse the two – many do – and remember…. you don’t need to be a leader or a manager to use those skills (particularly if you have greater expertise in both areas than the leaders and managers do!)

 N – Negotiation

 Gone, I think, are the days when negotiation was all about playing hardball and ‘getting your own way’ whatever the cost. Most entrepreneurs are in it for the long haul and recognise that it’s more about trying to end up in a (jargon alert) win-win situation with the other party. Any parent knows this makes for more rewarding relationships!

But nor is negotiation about bending over backwards and underselling yourself. Traditionally the not-for-profit sector has said ‘give us half the money and we’ll work twice as hard’. Being business-like – increasingly important in these hard times – is about saying instead ‘give us half the money and we’ll do half the job’.

 O – Obstacles and opportunities

Two sales executives were sent to a tropical island to research the market for shoes. One e-mailed HQ to report “bad news, no one wears shoes.” The other reported “good news, no one wears shoes.” Which would be your e-mail?

There’s a lot of bullsh*t spouted about necessity being the mother of invention and simply working smarter to save money as an excuse for slashing expenditure. But I do think some organisations have suffered in the past from the relative ease of access to funds for good works. Developing flabby organisations can lead to flabby thinking, and I’d like to think that a bit of belt-tightening might stimulate creativity.

Taking people with you

We will gather 1

Social media makes community action so much easier

“If you want to get something done, ask a busy person”

Recently I’ve been grappling with a problem which, I’m sure, is quite common.  This makes it all the more frustrating that, after 35 years of trying to mobilise people to take action of one sort of another (ie throughout my career in not-for-profit marketing) I’ve hit this brick wall now.

I’m working on two projects are the moment (I’ll save the blushes of those involved by excluding details) where people who have previously expressed interest, do not now seem to want to be involved with those projects. I know they’re active, committed and yes – busy – individuals; that’s why I asked them in the first place!

Over the last few months, I think I’ve given them both ample opportunity to get involved and the chance to say directly if they want out. But, despite my best efforts, they’re pretty much voting with their feet and staying away without explanation. A couple of people have said they’ll get involved when the projects are up and running, but I need help now!

As I write this, lots of questions fill my head…

Are they interested but just too busy? Someone suggested summer is a bad time to start things because of holidays and competition from fair-weather activities. But these people first declared their interest at the start of 2014.

Maybe they’re no longer interested and don’t want to offend me by saying so? Granted I regard many of them as friends, and sensitive friends at that, but I regard being upfront as hallmarks of a healthy relationship. Indeed one of those people has been both helpful and honest by telling me they’re bowing out from further involvement.

Another question is whether I or they are being reasonable / unreasonable? I admit I sort of co-opted them to get involved, but a mild bit of bullying is sometimes needed to persuade and, after all, they’re grown-ups. Surely it shouldn’t come down to me chasing them all the time?

Revisiting basic marketing principles, I suppose one way for me to get answers to these questions is to ask the people concerned, individually, how they feel about being involved. The fact that so many are staying away suggests I’m doing something fundamentally wrong (painful to acknowledge) or maybe their reasons are all different, all equally valid and/or could be addressed with a bit of effort on both our parts. If I don’t ask them I’ll probably never know.

In the meantime it would be great to get insights and advice from readers of this blog. As I said at the start, I’m sure I’m not alone in having trouble drumming up support for a new initiative. How did you get to take people with you when you needed them?