January 2014 | Volume 7, Issue #7    
In This Issue
Back from a Break
Worth Reading
Enjoy Live Jazz at Cory Weeds' Cellar Jazz Club While You Can
Quick Links

Join Our Mailing List

Back from a Break 


And what a break! Jill and I moved in November (just a couple of kms up the hill in North Vancouver). I spent a transformative weekend in Tempe, AZ, at the National Speakers' Association Chapter Leaders Institute (I'll be president of CAPS Vancouver in 2015). And we had an inspirational Advent/Christmas season at Brentwood Presbyterian Church (ministering with them continues to ground and nourish me). Throughout all of that, I was refocusing and refining the benefits I want to provoke through Jazzthink in 2014.


In essence, continuing to draw on the wit, wisdom, and workings of jazz, I want to provoke leaders/managers to convene SMARTer conversations. Conversation, after all, is the most common form of jazz in human experience.


To do that, I'm more convinced than ever, leaders/managers serve themselves best by honing their talent to initiate and sustain 5 essential forms of conversations. The Soulful conversations focus on positive self-talk. The Mindful conversations create positive alliances. The Astute conversations make sense and decisions. The Responsible conversations assign accountability and offer support. The Trusting conversations monitor and measure success.


If leaders/managers work on mastering these 5 essential conversations (and they're already having them all the time), they will create the space for their team to move from frustrated to flourishing. Their teams will spend far less time being stuck, stubborn, and stupid. They will become spry, scintillating, and sage.


If speaking, coaching, or facilitating services can help your leaders/managers contribute their best, then contribute above that, please e-mail me at fraser@jazzthink.com to explore the possibilities.  





In his year-end interview with Charlie Rose, New York Times journalist Tom Friedman said, "Leadership matters," and "Ownership is the key to life."



When I look back over my experience of leadership, the sense of owning the purpose is crucial. Without purpose, you flounder. Without purpose, you get frustrated. Without purpose, you flat out fail.


Leaders, as I have come to understand their importance, are the custodians of purpose in any enterprise.


Clarity, conviction, and collaboration are the keys to creating processes that align people to purpose. If you truly and deeply own the purpose of an enterprise, you will create clarity, generate conviction, and nourish collaboration around the benefits that your purpose produces.


Think of what it takes to lead an exceptional jazz group.


You create the play list (purpose) - what songs are going to be played in that set.


You gather the musicians you know will best generate the focused energy that will best interpret the tune (achieve the purpose) in as swinging as fashion as imaginable.


You nourish the spirit and space for the kind of collaboration that invites swing and innovation in interpreting the tune (achieving the purpose).


Let me emphasize a couple of features in those short descriptions.


First, 'purpose' dominates them. Everything revolves around 'purpose.' If that is not clear, confusion reigns. No matter how talented and practiced the musicians are, they cannot align themselves together. Further, if you have taken the time to include the other musicians in choosing and/or arranging the play list, they will be that much more engaged. They will have optimal ownership of the potential of the performance.


Second, swing is the key. Perhaps Duke Ellington said it best when he titled one of his greatest compositions, 'It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing.'



For Ellington,
swing is a "buoyant rhythm." It's an expression of "sentiments and ideas," integrating instinct, emotion, and intellect. And it tells the story of the people playing and listening in their own language, carrying on the long tradition of the music of the folk (for Ellington, obviously, black music in America). Insofar as Ellington could put swing into words, it's "alive" and "creative."


Count Basie once told Mike Wallace in a 60 Minutes interview, "If I've got your toe, I've got your mind and heart." That's what swing does.


If your leadership is going to matter in 2014 and beyond, it needs the swing that emerges from clarity, conviction, and collaboration. Create the spirit and space for those to happen and you will be a leader, my friend. You can do it from anywhere in the team or organization. It's not positional, it's influential.


So, how can you compose your conversations this year to exercise this kind of influence?








Worth Reading


New York Times business columnist Adam Bryant interviews CEOs for his Corner Office column. He composed the wisdom he has garnered into a new book, Quick and Nimble.


In an article in the Jan 5 issue of the Times, he summarizes the 6 key drivers of flourishing organizational cultures:


1.    A simple plan

2.    Clear roles for the road

3.    Respect

4.    Commitment to the team

5.    Adult conversations

6.    Talk face-to-face


On conversations, Bryant believes that "Having good conversations is really 80% of being an effective manager."


That's what Jazzthink provokes leaders to convene - good conversations. We call them SMARTer conversations. If you think we might be able to help you strengthen this key driver among your leaders, e-mail me at fraser@jazzthink.com and let's make it happen.



Enjoy Live Jazz at Cory Weeds'
Cellar Jazz Club While You Can


Cory Weeds is one of Canada's leading jazz impresarios. He's been working with Jazzthink since we began in 2002. His jazz club in Vancouver features some of the best jazz musicians on the planet but, sadly, Cory has found it necessary to close The Cellar down at the end of February this year. Take a look at the calendar for the next couple of months by clicking here and take in some of the great jazz scheduled between now and the end of an era.

The Cellar