Key learnings about leadership from my first Pub Choir experience.
Last week I went to my first ever ‘Pub Choir’ in Brisbane and it was such a great night. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Pub Choir before but if not, I highly recommend it.
So, what is it? It’s an event where a few hundred people, who don’t know each other, come together in a pub for 90 minutes and perform a song in three part harmony. On Wednesday night, we sang the classic 1980’s song “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” by English band Tears for Fears and it was such a fabulous experience I’ve already booked my ticket for the next event. (I’ll put the link in the comments below if you want to check it out).
As I was standing there in the pub, I was thinking about this pub choir and its connection with leadership. When you bring people together like this, it’s a wonderful example of collaboration and synergy. A group of people who are wanting to connect with one another, who have something in common and want to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
Our leader was the amazing and highly talented, Astrid Jorgen. She stood up on the stage giving us direction, showing us the way and making us laugh. She had a clear sense of direction and was focussed on the task at hand and I think you’ll agree the result was pretty amazing.
There was one particular part of the night during rehearsals that really struck a chord with me. Astrid was breaking down the song for us and singing a section and then asking us to repeat it back to her. There was one particular set of notes that she would sing and when she’d ask us to sing it back to her, we would sing a different note on the end. She tried again but we did the same thing. We wanted to sing our own notes. Our leader, Astrid, didn’t know what was going on but in the end she said with a laugh “ok, whatever. You guys just do what you want there.”
As a leader, sometimes you want to control every single note. You have a clear direction and clear steps on how to get there. You feel as if your way is the ‘right’ way or the ‘only’ way. However, there are times when you have to surrender control. You have to allow your people to sing their own notes loudly and proudly.
Seth Godin said in his book Tribes, “The art of leadership is understanding what you can’t compromise on.” And of course this means you also have to know what things you can compromise on. The things that won’t impact on the quality of the result.
If you allow your people to sometimes sing their own notes, you’ll get buy in from them and commitment. They’ll feel empowered and take ownership. If you control every single note, they’ll feel frustrated and feel as though they don’t have a voice at all. It’s your song, not theirs.
So, in your leadership role, how are you conducting your pub choir?
Are your people singing in harmony?
Are you creating something magical together?
Are you giving your people the opportunity to sing their own notes?