Leadership lessons


Hugh Ballou was an orchestra conductor for many years. Today he uses his music experience to teach those interested in becoming good leaders, including those who work in the best companies in the world.

He spoke in a Forbes interview  about his experience, what defines a good leader and what did he learn about leadership.

According to Ballou a leader is:

  1.  A person that carries out the tasks they are to perform
  2. A person who learns how to carry out these tasks
  3. A person operating positively and influencing others.

In Ballou‘s vision, a conductor is the best example of leadership. A conductor must be precise every time, he’s not allowed to have moments of indecision because it affects an entire orchestra. He is in control permanently.

Also in a company a leader expresses the vision and the mission of that company,  setting some goals that employees will carry out. Therefore, he must know his people well and their roles.

Ballou also points out that a good leader must be open to new proposals, communicate as much as possible with his employees and helping them to develop and become more autonomous.

” If a leader explains to an expert how to play a violin, the expert will most likely leave. But if however the leader can help the expert to develop his potential, to be more creative and enthusiastic, then certainly the magic appears ” exemplifies Ballou.

Throughout his years of activity Ballou realized that leaders have a universal problem : they blame others for the problems created . The cause? Sometimes leaders don’t know exactly how to express their objectives and thus confusing their employees.
Therefore , a good leader must learn how to explain why employees must achieve certain goals and assist to achieve them . Then , says Ballou , as a band , each member must be alert to the other and combine their talents in such a way to produce a successful concert , so the CEO for example, should not assume that he knows all, but accept that some employees have greater expertise in certain areas than they have.

Ballou also gave in his interview to Forbes a set of principles learned while he was conductor and can be useful to any leaders :

  1. Know your vision, your plan. Prepare yourself in advance.
  2. Choose the right people to achieve it.
  3. Establish effective relationships. Leaders guide” people, managers care for money.
  4. Appreciate the moments of respite. Beyond making plans a good leader should take time to analyze the situation to see where he’s wrong and what has to be fixed.

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