I love music. Music helps me to relax, workout or stay focused at work or at writing. I listen to a lot of music. And that’s also a reason why I often see things with a relation to music. So do I with leadership. You as a leader are kind of a conductor of your team which is the orchestra.

Orchestra or soloist?

You all know your team very well and I’m sure most, if not all of your employees are experts in what they do. The same applies to orchestras. There are a lot of expert who can play an instrument. If they play on their own it sounds different then when they play together.

For me it is the same within a team. If your experts are the soloists and only work on their own they can’t reach their full potential or provide the best work they could do if they would be part of the team.

In an orchestra everyone has to listen on what the other instruments are playing. There has to be a melody and harmony in what they play. In my opinion the same applies to a team. If the team members are not working together, sharing their experience or learn from each other they won’t be as effective as they could be together.

Playing the orchestra game with my team

As I watched how my team is working together and what results they deliver I first thought everything is fine. But after a couple of weeks I’ve seen that there are conflicts or they are doing things that are unproductive but they can’t see it.

This was the point where I wanted to change something. For me as their leader it is very important that they work as a team and understand themselves as a team. I know that conflicts are not bad but there are bad conflicts and I wanted to tackle those.

Another value of my understanding of leadership is to help every employee to develop themselves to reach their full potential. Not only through giving them advise but through asking them questions and challenge them every day.

I’m a big fan of visuals and easy to understand models. I remembered a keynote from Richard de Hoop where he presented his orchestra game and explained the dynamics of a team. I really like how easy it is to understand the correlation between a team and an orchestra. That’s why I wanted my team to play that game with me.

I had two goals in my mind:

  1. Everyone in the team will understand at the end what kind of character their colleagues and they self have. This will help to reduce bad conflicts as they will know their audience better.
  2. I will see who in the team has what strength and weaknesses on which we can build their development plans.

The orchestra game in a nutshell

The orchestra game is simple and easy to use. You will answer a couple of questions without too much time to think about the “right” answer. Just answer it fast to make it more reliable to understand the character you have and not the one you might want to be.

There are eight different instruments. Everyone is playing all of them, but some should be paused because they are played terrible. Behind each instruments there are specific characteristics. For example a guitar is a person who is very creative, flies in the air and is not that good at details. A harp in comparison has its strength in looking for details.

If you have that in mind there are some benefits for you as a leader as well as for the employee.

Benefits for the Leader

  • You will understand the different strengths and weaknesses of your team. This will help you to determine better who will be the best person or team to solve an issue or finish a task. EXAMPLE: If you want a report be finished and has all relevant data in their so that your data driven manager can decide better, don’t give that task to a guitar, give it instead to a harp.
  • You will see areas for improvement in your team as well as in every employee on his own. This will support you and your employee in defining development plans. EXAMPLE: If you have a lot of guitars in your team and no harps, it could be hard to convince data driven persons within your organization of an idea.

Benefits for the Employee

  • They will also understand their strengths and weaknesses better. With that in mind they can develop themselves without much need of your input and feedback.
  • They will know the characteristics of their colleagues. This will somehow reduce the amount of conflicts as they now will better understand the needs of each other when delivering results. EXAMPLE: Don’t bore a guitar with details, they want to see creativity and a big picture.

Some insights and ideas how to play the orchestra game

Ok guys, lets get started and have some fun!

  1. Create a teaser or something of interest so that the employees will do the test on their own and see a benefit of it. This benefit has to effect them directly if not they won’t play the game or ignore the results.
  2. After everyone did the test, collect the results and make them visual to the whole team.
  3. Place the results somewhere in your office so that everyone can see or walk to them. A nice side effect of this might be that other teams get interested in what you are doing and so the word get spread.
  4. Live the game and use the results to create together with each employee their personal development plan.

And this is how the results can look like within your office:

My results out of 900 points total:

  • Violin 20%
  • Guitar 16%
  • Horn 14%
  • Trumpet 13%
  • Piano 11%
  • Bass 10%
  • Harp 9%
  • Drums 7%

Next step for you… Create your own orchestra and play the game with your team and have some fun together. Enjoy!

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