Finding Your Own Tune

A senior HR director, now retired, once told me that if there were one proven business model, everyone would use it. If so, there would likely be little need for strategy consultants because companies would be able to implement the same model. Unfortunately, upon reflection, we can say that state-controlled economies have one model, and as a result, most, if not all, fail.

There are also work style models, that is, how we do our work and approach it. For example, recently, I found a novel model borrowed from a book written for guitarists by Don Brown, a consultant author and guitarist. The book is titled, Travels with Uwe. The title refers to Uwe Kruger, a German-born, Swiss-raised immigrant to the U.S. now based in North Carolina who performs widely with brother Jens and teaches prolifically. Brown himself is a student.

After spending his first session with Uwe, Brown told me in an email interview, “I was so transformed in so many ways I’d never expected that I just wanted to get the word out. I went for a musical experience; I left transformed in music and life!” The following model is a result of Brown’s “awakening.”

Play – finding joy in the music you produce;

Practice – sharpening your skills so you can bring out the best of your talents;

Create – Learn to experiment, innovate to develop your content and style; and

Perform – get on stage and show us what you can do.

Lessons for non-musicians

The application to work off-stage and away from a guitar or musical instrument is solid. “Even non-musicians attending the Academies over the years experienced the same transformations as their musician partners and left with the same burning desire to better seize their day. Every day.”

Let me explain how it applies to managing teams.

Play at work. A manager wants his team engaged, and they do it by creating conditions for them to succeed, chiefly by providing resources, training, and support. This approach enables the team to “play together” in harmony.

Practice together. Work is work. Application of skill to task requires training and practice.

Create your style. Each of us is different. A savvy manager understands the talents and skills of those on his team. It is up to the manager to enable the employee to do the work in ways that facilitate how well they add to the task and contribute to the mission.

Performance is production. Output is product or service delivered. It is essential to do it on time, within budget, and in ways that delight the customer.

Building confidence

Teams that perform build upon the skills of one another. They learn to coordinate resources and collaborate to create better results. The net outcome is the team builds confidence.

Or ask Uwe Kruger would say, “To perform, you have to have a certain confidence, and you have to gain that confidence in front of an audience… every time.” Sounds like good advice for any manager, any leader, anywhere. And Don Brown adds, “A path to being happy ‘now’ is through the power of music in life.”

First posted on Forbes.com 10.05.2022