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For the Greater Good

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I love a good metaphor and use them a lot when coaching others. Why metaphors? Because they can help bring greater awareness and further insight to a problem or solution.
One of my favourite metaphors of late is to compare leaders to a musical conductor.

A conductor should guide rather than command
Riccardo Muti


Conductor vs. soloist

Unlike a soloist, whose role is to focus on themselves, a conductor relies on others, and finds ways to make them shine. Conductors unify performance, set tempo, execute clear preparation and beats, and listen critically and shape the sound of the ensemble. They have authority, and are followed by their ensemble.

Just like conductors, leadership must have legitimacy if leaders want their people to accept or follow them. Leaders must see each performer or team members strength and bring their skills together in order to achieve their goals, whether it be making music or hitting targets.

Effective leadership isn’t about the me, it’s about focusing on the outcomes that we want as a whole by instilling a shared vision and bringing others along the journey at every step.


Leading like a conductor

So how do we move from the me, to the we? At Dattner Group we believe there are 3 levels of effective leadership which revolve around the premise of SELF, OTHERS, and CONTEXT.

Not dissimilar to the four leadership lessons learnt from Orchestra Conductors, which are:

  1. Have a clear vision
  2. Establish roles and responsibilities
  3. Provide coaching and feedback
  4. Lead from the front and be visible


Dattner Group utilises the five levels of leadership, according to John Maxwell, which are:


Level 1 – SELF – it’s all about me (the soloist), start becoming aware of others

Level 2 – CONNECT WITH OTHERS connect with others that are in the orchestra, understand what they do well and build trust

Level 3 – INSPIRE OTHERS build leadership credibility and the momentum of the team by sharing what you have done

Level 4 – ELEVATE OTHERS how do I develop others? What can I do to make others even better?

Level 5 – SERVE OTHERS – the highest level of leadership where we develop a legacy mindset to create opportunities that other leaders don’t. People follow them because of who they are and what they represent


Big change, little by little

Guiding leaders through this step-change using metaphors is a far more effective way of showing them what is possible as part of their transformational leadership development and leads to more constructive, effective and inspirational change for leaders and their ‘orchestras’.

By helping leaders overcome the road blocks that often unconsciously come with a ‘manager’ mindset, leaders can move from operating in a reactive context and undertaking tasks that could be delegated to others, to conducting and leading at a higher level.

Now more than ever, we need more leaders to step into a ‘conductor mindset’ if we’re going to change the practice of leadership to become more sustainable and collaborative.


Michelle Crouch
Director – Consultant & Coach


To find out how we can help you, please contact us at Dattner Group



Conducting is not a metaphor for leadership, it IS leadership

4 Leadership Lessons Learned From Orchestra Conductors

The 5 Levels of Leadership