Weekly Thoughts From the Desk of the Principal

Everyone plays a role in setting the tempo of organizational leadership. Click below to read this week's thoughts. 

Gabriel Lucas

Aug 26, 2021

Weekly Thoughts From the Desk of the Principal

This past weekend I was called into duty to play organ for the weekend Masses at a church in San Francisco, something I used to do with much more regularity for over a decade.  I forgot how invigorating and exhilarating playing music in front of an audience can be.


The organ is a funny instrument.  Without a doubt, it has the ability to be the loudest voice in the room.  Yet lacking any percussive qualities, it is not a good instrument for setting the tempo or rhythmically leading the choir.  The cantor, who was a professional musician himself, knew what most amateur singers don’t realize: his job was to set the pace and get that towering organ to follow him.  Like a small child happily walking a big dog on leash, harmony can sometimes be achieved in the most unconventional ways.


The same thing is true in organizational leadership.  Too often, the loudest voice in the room is the de facto team leader, while softer voices defer and acquiesce.  Here’s a thought...rather than teach a loud colleague softer tricks and vice versa, what if you tried trading power positions?  In other words, if you’re often a loud voice in the room, that’s fine — but let others drive the discussion and set the agenda.  And if you’re often a soft voice in the room, try taking charge and leading the conversation a bit more — particularly when it comes to planning and next steps.  I’ve seen these inverse power dynamics work out marvelously, and quite recently I heard a referee commend a senior administrator with a softer voice for knowing how to both create consensus and catalyze action.  In other words, people will notice and sing your praises.


As luck would have it, I’m returning to the organ this coming weekend.  At the risk of hypocrisy, I won’t be able to resist playing the organ quite loudly — but only after Mass when no one is in the pews!




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