Benjamin Zander on passion, purpose and strategy
June 10, 2014
I keep returning to this Benjamin Zander TED talk in which he uses Chopin to demonstrate the essential characteristics of leadership. Apart from being passionate about your subject or area of work, you also need to believe that you can inspire others to tap into their own passions too. It’s this unfailing sense of possibility that distinguishes good leaders from not-so-good leaders. Zander uses the music of Chopin to demonstrate….Classical music is perpetually associated with the middle-class and is perceived to be an ‘elite’ art form so it’s apt that Zander should take his passion and try to persuade his audience that Chopin is worth listening to. And he succeeds beautifully. Not by lecturing or hectoring or providing a powerpoint presentation on the merits and de-merits. But by meeting people on an emotional level. Zander allows us to meet him and his passion in a deeply human way. He also meets his audience (some of whom will be interested in classical music, most of whom won’t) and fails to patronize or persuade. He then invites them to think of a loved one no longer here … and then he allows the music to do the rest. I imagine that for each audience member Chopin’s music provides a very different emotional experience. In this sense each individual creates and curates their own experience from their own life story using Chopin as a tool. As a result I imagine many of those ‘unpersuaded’ by the merits of Chopin will take a risk to listen once again.
Zander’s strategy is so powerful in its simplicity.
Meet people where they are
Allow others to see your passion
Connect with others around their passions and interests
Extend an invitation to join
Get out of the way
It’s a talk I come back to again and again to remind me that sometimes, getting out of the way and allowing people to do their own work is the best type of consultancy around. Enjoy.