“Take that [rhythm] you’ve got in your foot and put it into your arm,” the maestro urges.'
- Sydney Symphony Orchestra Conductor David Robertson's advice to journalist and first time conductor, James Jeffrey
'I was telling my students about your little leadership habit,' Flight Lieutenant Waugh said when we caught up over lunch in the RAAF Base Point Cook Officers Mess. Kathy had been my Directing Staff or 'DS' during my Officer Training a few months earlier. I was intrigued. What did I, a newly-minted Air Force Officer, have to teach anyone about leadership?
'I told them about how you wrote down in your calendar when your Corporal said that she was having her hair done over the weekend so that you could remember to compliment her on it when you saw her on Monday.'
Something didn't feel right about that then, and it still doesn't.
The management books are full of 'fake it 'til you make it' advice to would-be leaders. Tips and tricks to look like you care about your people so that they will be motivated to work harder for you. I think I had been joking with Kathy about my calendar reminder, but I've been a bad boss so I've faked sincerity in other ways.
New and aspiring bosses get caught in the no man's land between remembering what they wished their boss had done for them, and not knowing how, or having the self-confidence, to do it for their workers. So we read the leadership books and do a bit of management by walking around, noting of people's children's names, and try to look interested during long winded responses to our rote 'How was your weekend?' questions.
As one of my bosses, the Abbot of New Norcia used to say to me:
Take that steady rhythm of humanity in your heart, the wounds from so many bad bosses, your own fear that you recognise in our faces, the optimism and belief in the fundamental goodness in us all - including yourself - and put it into your baton.
Then lead is in playing each of our instruments in your original composition.