header 5

February 2009 | Volume 2, Issue #8

In This Issue
Karl Weick's Core Chart for Great Leadership
From Brian's Bookshelves
Jazz, Leadership, and Teamwork Quote of the Month
What People are Saying about Brian's Speaking
What Brian's Been Writing
Preview a sampling of slides that Jazzthink uses
The Cellar Jazz Club
Quick Links
Malcolm Gladwell 2Malcolm Gladwell, in Outliers: The Story of Success, has drawn our attention to the 10,000 hour rule.  In essence, it says that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve true expertise.  I first ran across this research in neurologist Daniel Levitin's This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession, which Gladwell references.  (Click here to listen to Gladwell apply this rule to Fleetwood Mac.)
It's a daunting number, until you think about it a bit more.
Take the practice of talking and engaging in conversations.  If you are over 13 years of age, you have logged the required 10,000 hours of practice.  That's three hours a day, or twenty hours a week, for ten years.  You have mastered the basics and explored a wide variety of ways of improvising with those basics.
Leadership is the art of convening conversations that enable the participants to co-create productive communities that collaborate in achieving beneficial results.  When they work well, those conversations find a groove that opens up opportunities for everyone to contribute their unique voice and interpretation, just like a great jazz performance creates a flexible structure within which each musician can contribute talent and creativity. 
To use the voice you have mastered over the years to its greatest potential, you would do well to pay attention to using it in the following four ways:
 be aware of the purpose for which the conversations are being convened;
 be alert to the flow of the conversations to keep it focused on the benefit desired;
 be appreciative of the insights that emerge from the conversations to capture the wisdom of the participants; and
 align the commitments made in the course of the conversations to support people in getting the results they want.
All of the complex interactions of attitudes and behaviours that generate great consequences in organizational systems arise from and flow through conversations.  They are most fundamental building blocks of successful communication.  You have the required hours of practice to master the art of talking.  The choice before you is how attentive you will be to increasing your virtuosity in conversations that will create a different and better future.
brian at desk 2008 
Karl Weick
Karl Weick's Core Chart for Great Leadership

Karl Weick was described in Fast Company in 2002 as "the smartest business thinker you've never heard of."  He was one of the first people I ran across who likened organizational dynamics to jazz.  (Click here to read the Fast Company article.)  
In turbulent and trying times, Weick believes that leadership has a number of responsibilities, all designed to help the organization make sense of and improvise with its circumstances, opportunities, resources, and strategies.  Leadership:
 Helps people have conversations that create sense
 Helps people move beyond seeing themselves as victims or fighters
 Helps people talk their way from the superficial, through the complex, to the profound
 Helps people expand the range and variety of cues they use to make sense
 Helps people get unstuck and focus on new inputs and opportunities
 Helps people revise, enrich, and replace the first story they tell themselves
 Helps people keep moving forward
Leaders don't do this by themselves, but they help people do it together. 
At the very core of Weick's vision of innovative and effective organizations is a community of people who use of their voices to convene the conversations that will create a new and more sustainable future for their organizations.

From Brian's Bookshelves
Brian's BookshelfRichard Boyatzis and Annie McKee, Resonant Leadership: Renewing Yourself and Connecting with Others Through Mindfulness, Hope, and Compassion.  Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2005.

Great leadership moves people - powerfully, passionately, and purposefully.  That's the central argument of this third volume of the Emotional Intelligence trilogy that began with Daniel Goleman's Emotional Intelligence and continued in the book that Goleman, Boyatzis, and McKee wrote together, Primal Leadership.
Boyatzis and McKee paint a disturbing picture of the dissonance that often exists within and emanates from leaders who are isolated, pompous, and coercive.  They enable toxic work environments to the disadvantage of themselves, their colleagues, and their organizations.
The book is a manual on the internal changes required to develop resonance within yourself as a leader and among those with whom you exercise leadership.  It pays careful attention to the four crucial dimensions of your energy that must be managed to achieve resonance - physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.  It outlines the advantage of being awake, aware, and attentive to what is going on within you and around you.  They make a compelling business case for the practice of hope and compassion as a means of being realistic about possibilities rather than being stuck in problems.
The final chapter is an eloquent commentary on Gandhi's famous words, "Be the change you wish to see in the world."  It concludes with a passage from Goethe that invites a new quality of leadership:
What you can do,
or dream you can,
begin it.
Boldness has genius,
power, and magic
in it.
misc1Jazz, Leadership, and Teamwork Quote of the Month
The high degree of individuality, together with the mutual respect and co-operation required in a jazz ensemble carry with them philosophical implications that are so exciting and far-reaching that one almost hesitates to contemplate them. It is as if jazz were saying to us that not only is far greater individuality possible to man than he has so far allowed himself, but that such individuality, far from being a
threat to a cooperative social structure, can actually enhance society.  
Sidney Crouch 
What People are Saying about Brian's Speaking

Here are a couple of the comments we got on our evaluation forms from the January meeting of the Lower Mainland chapter of the Canadian College of Health Service Executives.
"The insights from your Jazzthink session will help me take time to hear and play music with others through listening, learning, and leading.  I particularly like the idea of the organization being a sum of its conversations."
Ann Brown
Providence Health Care
Vancouver, BC

"Thank you!  Moving away from 'needs assessment' to 'capacity exploration' is so important!  Very glad you are not afraid of drawing on your pastoral experience."
Dr. Timothy Foggin
In-Fact Health Consutling
Burnaby, BC

What Brian's Been Writing
"Finding Your Capacity Building Groove: Lessons from Jazz," in Alliance Insight online, January 2009. 
Click here to go to the article. Once there, scroll down to guest articles.


Enjoy Great Jazz in Vancouver 

The Cellar Logo