Business Conductors as the Ultimate Calling

About 3 months ago, the wife and I visited a guesthouse on a wine estate in the beautiful little town of McGregor, close to Robertson. Kingsriver Wine Estate promised a wine tasting as part of the perks of an overnight stay. We arrived there early Saturday afternoon and used the rest of the day to visit McGregor  – which has become a very popular destination for city folk wishing to break away from the stress of city life.

Saturday evening just before dinner, the owner of the estate dealt with the wine tasting himself. However, this was a wine tasting with a difference. Instead of starting with the normal procedure of telling us about the terrior and all the rest, he started by telling us that grapes in nature can make wine on their own.  He considered his task as that of the conductor, in that he as the winemaker would put together the different elements necessary in such a way that the outcome would be a great wine. His job was to improve the process! I tasted the 2008 Kingsriver Shiraz, and can attest to the fact that someone with good conducting skills was involved in the making of that wine!

When I thought of the actual symphony orchestras, the analogy of a conductor in the making of wine became quite clear. The different instrument players are all experts in their field. The conductor can hardly teach any of the musicians anything about their instrument. His/her task is to synthesize their activities so that their music is harmonised and the whole is more than the sum of the parts! This requires the musicians to be attuned to the gestures and moves of the conductor. The conductor does have the responsibility to ensure that the musicians are on top of their game and that their delivery is faultless. As such he would ensure that the people that are allowed into the orchestra, are very good. People that do not cut the grade are shown the door. People with potential are nursed and grown. All of this has to take place in a culture that is conducive to great performance! The difference between a bad conductor, a good conductor and a great conductor is quite noticeable to even the not-so well-tuned ear!

In the world of business, the same principle applies. Organisations need well-trained people that are focused and engaged. However, this is dependent on leaders that are comfortable and expert in guiding and coaching their employees. These leaders need to ensure that they appoint people with the necessary qualities and potential. They need to cultivate the optimal culture where high performance teams are comfortable to excel! This is exactly what the role of the conductor is about.  Jim Collins describes this in his work, Good to Great, in which he explains the concept of “Level 5 Leadership”. These people appoint people that are even more competent than they are, and then align the actions of these people to the benefit of the organisation as a whole.

To be a conductor is therefore the ultimate calling of business leaders. Allow your people the freedom to be great in their roles, and guide them to a synergistic greatness, in unity with their colleagues!

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