Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lead Like You Love It

When I posted this entry I mentioned another I had been writing on leadership with a conductor as the example of the principle (mostly written back in January, by the way). A friend told me tonight that I need to be blogging more about this kind of thing, so here we go.

So first, the example. About a year ago I was at a meeting one evening with a large group of boy scout leaders. They announced the opening song and prayer, and the organist began to play. The music conductor stood up in his scout uniform before the large roomful of people, and as the words began, he started leading us in the song like there wasn't another place in the world he would rather be. He was smiling and singing away, looking like he was having the time of his life.

I couldn't hardly keep my eyes off him, he was so fun to watch! I wondered what I was missing just sitting there in the audience, rather than up there leading. I don't remember if he was leading 'correctly,' but correctly or not, people were happily following him. He was there to do the job, do his best, and have a great time doing it. I would bet I wasn't the only person who noticed. I think I learned more from that man that I did from the rest of the meeting (sorry other speakers). His simple example taught me mountains.


I thought of this while watching the musical performance of "Air and Simple Gifts" by John Williams during President Obama's inauguration. Of course each of the four musicians are top performers and leaders in their fields, but Yo-Yo Ma especially held my attention because he looked like he was having a blast. I watched the performance twice that day and was captivated by him both times. While pointing and telling the kids we own some of his CDs and he's famous because he's been on Arthur (check him out at 1:00 and 3:20, somehow his ears are bigger when he's a cartoon), I couldn't help but mention, "Look how much fun he's having!" (Maybe he was grinning knowing that we were listening to a recording so everyone didn't have to listen to their cold out-of-tune instruments, but who's to say for sure?)

We've all been around someone in a leadership position that complains, joking or not, about what they do. It's hard to follow someone that isn't happy about their job, even jokingly. They give the impression that they are there as a place holder, wishing their time was over rather than someone there to really lead, serve, and do their best. People don't look to complainers for an example.

On the other hand, people that are willingly and happily doing the work they are there to do become a great example to everyone that sees them. While I was a nursery leader for our church, meeting with the 18 months to 3 year old children every Sunday, I made it a personal goal of mine to show up early and always be happy while I was there. I wanted people to wonder what they were missing out on. Early on there were probably days when I was doing my best to paste on a smile, but an interesting by-product of that is after a while I didn't have to pretend anymore. When someone made a comment about me being "stuck" in there, I would let them know why I love it.

I'm certainly not always perfect at this, but it's something I've tried to apply. At home I think it's especially important to show our families that we love to be with and lead them. I've heard stories of girls not wanting to be mothers because of the example their own mothers showed of being so displeased with the job.

We are being watched more than we could ever imagine. Let your joyful service be an example to those around you, and people will follow. "For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands" (Isaiah 55:12). Cheesy, but it follows the musical examples, and you probably will be surprised by the miraculous results of your joyful attitude.


P.S. I attended the same meeting a month ago, and I was most excited about going because I was so hoping to see the same man conducting the music again. Unfortunately, they had someone else, and she didn't look nearly as happy to be there.

Another great post on what someone has learned from conductors (to add to my own ah-ha's about that):  http://michaelhyatt.com/50-8-leadership-lessons-from-a-symphony-conductor-podcast.html


  1. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post!!! I love when truth is taught to me and it pierces my soul and I can't wait to go and do and be better. Thanks for this today. I will go and do and be!

  2. Very nice. I read a post today that reminded me of your post. If we are always complaining out our job who will follow or even try to meet our expectations?