Chairing: It’s not all on John Wilson

John Wilson is a pretty amazing conductor with many internationally reputed orchestras. I’ve been lucky enough to see him in action from the Choir seats at the Royal Albert Hall.

These seats are behind the orchestra and they give you a fresh perspective on his performance, viewed from the front. It occurred to me that when John Wilson conducts, in many ways he chairs a meeting of musicians.

My Masterclass for Association of Association Executives will develop you into a more effective chair of your meetings, whoever they involve.

In the meantime, here’s what I imagined it might be like to look at a meeting, through the eyes of John Wilson. I started by thinking about what might be on his mind as he prepares for his work.

What’s on the agenda: He’ll get to know the score, the shape of this piece, length, tempo, moments of quiet, difficult parts. How it begins, how it ends.

Who’s in the room: He’ll think about the musicians, who they are, and their particular part in the piece. He’ll think about what how he can get the best from them.

What’s my role: He’ll remind himself of why he’s there. What his actions are. How he contributes his part, to bring out the best in the musicians, to make the music as it was meant to be made.

What are we aiming for: He’ll also think about what the group is trying to achieve together. What the piece of music is about. What they are all trying to create as a team, through their endeavours.

He might also remind himself that:

It’s not all on me: there’s the score, the musicians and the collective goal. They all have a role. Aside from his specific responsibilities, the meeting is a collective endeavour.

A great outcome doesn’t just ‘happen’: it is created. And takes work by all. There will be a number of rehearsals before the journey is completed. During this time, the whole group learns about each other. And Mr Wilson learns about them.

I play the orchestra: his role is to bring them together, to accompany them as they accompany each other on the journey from first note to last. He keeps them on track and to time. His job is to get the best from those in the room.

What do you think? Has this got you thinking about how you Chair meetings? Why not get in touch and tell me what you’d like to work on. In the meantime, thanks for reading. And thanks to Lyndsay Hughes for the comment that inspired this piece.

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