My years between 16 and 21 are one of my life’s most formative and fondest memories. I was lucky enough to be a part of a music band, playing drums. My bandmates and I used to spend hours practicing, learning, and writing classic and alternative rock songs. We had a couple of fun gigs in Mumbai and then later in Los Angeles. It’s been a while since I last played, but I keep thinking back about those times and what they taught me and continue to teach me about life and leadership.
Show the emotion behind the vision
As a member of the band what really keeps the group motivated is everyone’s ownership of the ‘cause’. As a leader, we must show the emotion behind the vision. Your team needs to see that you care as much, if not more than them about what you are trying to do. They need to understand your purpose for the vision of the company and how each employee’s contribution fits into that sense of purpose.
Safe spaces for exploration
Band practice was a surprisingly emotionally safe space to try new things and often fail. With the right kind of support and safe environment, people are willing to think out of the box and try new things. Creating a collaborative space for trying new things will help teams find unique and powerful dynamics for solving problems together.
As a drummer, you set the tempo for every track. It is an important layer of each song and helps your bandmates know what part of the song is about to come up. Similarly, a leader needs to set and maintain the pace for the team to ensure that important and not just urgent things are done. Leadership for me has turned more into driving strategic and personnel growth rather than guiding service/product delivery. By setting a cadence, you help your team and yourself understand your expectations for progress and enable them to support you in executing your vision.
Bands thrive on the camaraderie built with hours of jamming. This has been my biggest challenge with WFH, connecting on the softer side of leadership. And that’s what I look forward to the most, jamming with my team again in a shared workspace soon!