Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Leadership Ensemble: Lessons in Collaborative Management from the World's Only Conductorless Orchestra Hardcover – October 4, 2001
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Customers who bought this item also bought
From Publishers Weekly
The business-as-orchestra metaphor is nothing new: the business executive must bring out each employee's best so that the entire organization finds harmony. Seifter, executive director of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, which operates sans conductor, takes the idea a step further, arguing that a leader may be unnecessary. With the help of writer Economy, Seifter offers eight CEO-optional management principles (e.g., put power in the hands of workers; clarify roles; share and rotate leadership; foster horizontal teamwork; learn to listen, learn to talk) for achieving organizational success. The irony, of course, is that, except in inchoate organizations, only a boss can implement this leaderless system.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra was founded in 1972 in New York, designed to rely on the skills, abilities, and passionate commitment of its members rather than on the leadership of a conductor. Power, responsibility, and motivation rest entirely in the hands of the musicians. Jointly its members make the artistic decisions that are ordinarily the work of a conductor, and they participate in choosing the repertoire and creating the group's programs. There are eight Orpheus principles: put power in the hands of the people doing the work, encourage individual responsibility, create clarity of roles, share and rotate leadership, foster horizontal teamwork, learn to listen and talk, seek consensus, and dedicate passionately to your mission. The authors' goal is to show business leaders in any industry how to use these principles in their companies. Each chapter focuses on one of the principles, and each ends with a five-step prescription for applying the relevant principle to a specific company and a warning about problems that may be encountered in doing so. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
Leadership Ensemble looks beyond Dr. Drucker's vision, to the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra's practices in operating without a conductor! The result is a "dynamic equilibrium" where everyone takes turns playing leadership roles and is encouraged to provide the kinds of ideas that only conductors normally propose. Interestingly, the Orpheus group is inspired to make great music . . . along the lines of what the collaboration of chamber groups has always done. If they thought that having a conductor would help, they would get a conductor. Instead, they seem to have harnessed many dimensions of the talents of all 27 musicians in the group. Their intent is to evolve further in this direction, so the book represents the group at a point in time, rather than at a destination.
The usual orchestra is run like a dukedom, with the conductor in charge. Few opinions are asked for and even fewer are brooked. In fact, independent surveys show that musicians in orchestras generally have very poor job satisfaction. The authors joke that "every dictator aspires to be a conductor" because a conductor's power is so absolute.
The best part of this book involves describing the way the orchestra operates to select a repertoire, decide how to perform a piece, determine who will play what parts, and handle differences of opinion. There are many other interesting sections about how the musicians have expanded their roles to get into more areas of management and recently (1998) were added to the board of trustees. The processes involved reminded me a lot of what jazz musicians do more informally, and improvisational actors do on the spur of the moment. The remarkable thing is that great planning is captured by the orchestra, without getting bogged down in spending too much time preparing. Their processes are very complex and effective, and depend on thoughtful and timely action by everyone involved. I would love to see a DVD version of this book that involved showing them at work in preparing pieces and handling other important tasks.
The key principles of their success are boiled down into 8 principles. These concepts are elaborated with a few examples from other organizations (mostly profit-making companies), five steps for implementation, and problems to look out for in implementation. Although this material is good, I would have preferred to have read more about Orpheus itself instead.
A key caution that I have about the advice here is that the organizations using these principles were either founded upon them, or have been using them extensively for a long time. I'm not sure that the transition from a more hierarchical organization will go rapidly and smoothly. If the purpose was to advise companies and nonprofits on how to make these changes, the authors would have done better to focus on organizations that were recently hierarchical and rapidly changed to something close to what Orpheus does.
If you are like me, you will be tempted to dismiss the example because it involves highly talented and motivated musicians who earn a good living. But the authors have brought into the book enough examples of nonprofessionals responding just as well that I was persuaded that this model probably can be taken much further than most companies are trying to do. Will CEOs be comfortable in this new role of encouraging the culture, and staying out of the way? I hope so!
Where can you let go and do less as a leader and allow others to lead more? Where do you need to do more as a leader for your organization to accomplish more?