July 2013 | Volume 7, Issue #1      

In This Issue
Upcoming Jazzthink Gigs
Beginning Year 7 of the Jazzthink E-Zine.
Cory Weeds' Cellar Jazz Club
Quick Links

Join Our Mailing List

5 More Leadership Lessons from Jazz   




By the time you are reading this, I'll be in Halifax facilitating conversations on 'Thinking in Jazz about Missional Leadership' in the summer school at the Atlantic School of Theology. Leadership in the church has a lot in common with leadership in any organization that seeks to achieve a purpose.


Over the past couple of months, several friends have sent me articles on jazz and leadership. Two stood out. Scott Olson finds 5 key leadership attributes in a jazz jam session - risking, listening, collaboration, awareness, and sensitivity. Josh Linkner finds 11 lessons in jazz for business leadership - too long to summarize, so I'd invite you to read the article. It is short.


Course prep and these articles got me thinking afresh about the leadership lessons I'm seeing in jazz these days. I'm reminded that leadership is all about relationships - with yourself, with others, and with a common purpose. Leadership is ecological, touching upon and influencing, for better and for worse, the whole system. It's not primarily being in a position, but exercising an influence. You can do that from any position in the organization or community.


Take a couple of minutes to watch at least part of this early performance of Oscar Peterson's 'Hymn to Freedom' with Ray Brown on bass and Ed Thigpen on drums. As I listened to them over the last few days, I gave special thanks for the leadership of Nelson Mandela. 

Click image to view Oscar Peterson's 'Hymn to Freedom'

Your primary leadership tool is your voice in conversation. It's like the musician's instrument in performance.


Here are five riffs on leadership that came into focus for me as I prepared the course, played off these articles, and enjoyed the trio's performance:


1. Create safe space so the collective soul is nourished.


Safe is the opposite of frightening. Leaders create this space by modeling compassion for people, curiosity about possibilities, and clarity of purpose. A collective soul emerges in this space. It is the energy that integrates intellect, emotion, and instinct into wisdom for the particular time and place the team inhabits. It sifts and sorts and selects the best strategy for nourishing the potential of the moment.


2. Invite stimulating conversation so gifts are enhanced.


Safe space is welcoming space. There is appreciation for what each guest has to offer. Even if in a particular conversation/performance, one person is playing the lead most of the time, others are attentive, supportive, and contributing their complementary brilliance to the overall impact. In the next item on the agenda/piece in the set, another person will speak out and shine. Everyone's brilliance is enhanced in the course of the whole conversation/performance.


3. Inquire into beneficial possibilities so good is done.


Welcoming space is filled with curiosity. That's the only attitude that invites people into full participation. Inquiring about what others would like to see happen and what they think will work best opens up a much broader range of possibilities than simply stating what you think should be done. Doing good is touch work these days. There are a lot of barriers and interferences. Collective wisdom and courage is crucial.


4. Provide robust support so everyone excels.


Curiosity that opens the space to contribution lays the foundation for robust support as decisions are made and the endeavour moves forward. Whether it's a project or a performance, excellence requires that the whole system be in sync to provide the many kinds of support needed to bring the project/performance to a successful conclusion. 


5. Celebrate delightful impact so flourishing is the norm.


Jazz fans, both musicians and audiences, can't hold themselves back from appreciating all that the space, the welcome, the curiosity, and the support make possible. Seldom do they hold their applause until the end of the piece. Instead, they celebrate the impact of each contribution as it is made during the performance, then show even greater enthusiasm for the whole at the end. This constant flow of appreciation enables the performers to flourish.


You can take the lead in making these things happen in your team, no matter what its makeup and purpose. Take some time this summer to reflect on how you might take these leadership lessons from jazz and make them happen.


And if you run across articles or clips on jazz and leadership, or jazz and teamwork, please send them to me at fraser@jazzthink.com. I love learning more and more about the resonant power of this metaphor. 







Upcoming Jazzthink Gigs


"Leadership Lessons from Jazz," the Aitken Scholar lecture/jam session for the Atlantic School of Theology, Wed, July 10, 2013, at Bearly's House of Blues and Ribs, Halifax, NS. The lecture/jam session is free. Click here for details.


"SMARTer Conversations for Leaders: Lessons from Jazz," an afternoon session for the Leadership Forum, Mon, July 29, 2013, at Trinity Western University, Langley, BC. Click here for more information and to register. 


"Dharma through Chaos," a personal reflection and invitation to conversation on life lessons from jazz at Red Door Yoga, Lantzville, BC, on July 19, 2013. Click here more for information and to register. 


"Thinking in Jazz about Following Jesus," a sermon for St. Andrew's United Church, Kaslo, BC, during the Kaslo Jazz Festival, on Sun, August 4, 2013 at 10:00AM. Click here to find out more about the Kaslo Jazz Festival.


"SMARTer Teaching Conversations: Lessons from Jazz," two different workshops, morning and afternoon, at the BC Music Educators' Association conference on Sat, October 26, 2013. Click here for more information on the conference. 




Beginning Year 7 of the Jazzthink E-Zine

With this issue, I'm entering the 7th year of writing the Jazzthink E-Zine. It's been a delightful discipline, calling forth new ways of looking at how good conversation can improve the practices of leadership and teamwork. I'm grateful to all the readers who open and consider. I trust these reflections have provoked you as much as your ongoing interest has inspired me.




Cory Weeds' Cellar Jazz Club in July 2013


Summer is a great time to visit the Cellar - relax in the cool ambiance, have a refreshing beer or glass of wine, and listen to some hot jazz. Jill and I are hoping to get to the Sax Summit on July 19 or 20. Vocalists Armi Grano on July 21 and Melody Diachun on July 30 are well worth hearing. Click here for a full calendar.

The Cellar   

This email was sent to fraser@jazzthink.com by fraser@jazzthink.com |  
Jazzthink | #1402 - 1327 East Keith Road | North Vancouver | BC | V7J 3T5 | Canada

This email was sent by the author for the sole purpose of testing a draft message. If you believe you have received the message in error, please contact the author by replying to this message. Constant Contact takes reports of abuse very seriously. If you wish to report abuse, please forward this message to abuse@constantcontact.com.