Orchestra Without a Conductor

This was a farewell. The last concert of the year for the high-school orchestra. The seniors wore roses and beamed with personality.

The conductor held up his baton, and the music began. Powerful. Brilliant. Exciting. A send-off to the next phase of their lives.

Then he looked at the orchestra and grinned. He stepped off the podium stage right, folded his arms, and watched from the sidelines. 5 measures later, he looked at the audience. Smiled with confidence, and walked off the stage. He never came back.
The orchestra continued. Powerful. Brilliant. More exciting. I sat mesmerized by the leadership moment. They didn’t miss a beat. They were performing– without their leader. Or were they?

He left confident that…

  • the vision was understood
  • they had a game plan
  • they were accomplished players
  • who had practiced
  • and would listen to one another

His confidence said…

  • I believe in you
  • You’re ready for the next phase
  • It was never about me
  • Go be brilliant

No conductor. Powerful leader.

Posted in Developing Leadership In Children, Results & Execution and tagged , , , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells - building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. Karin- You put your pin down. Your wrote this magical post. You are confident that the forthcoming comments are just mesmerized by the beauty of your post. You trust your leaders. You know they are engaged. You know they shall echo the voice of appreciation.
    You are a leading writer. People follow and comment willingly and without orders.
    Those who seek to know what leadership is all about should read this post. They should realize that a great leader might be out sight, but never out of mind. So are these posts.

    • I really like it. What a powerful and straightforward way to talk about the power of motivation. I am curious how do you use these slides? Consulting? Teaching?

    • Karin,

      First, I am delighted that you find the presentation useful. The presentation attracted some powerful comments that humbled me.
      My motive to write is to give my experience to others, You noticed that I do not disallow downloads or put even a copy write notice. Why? because I have to keep learning. The story of yesterday is not the story of tomorrow.
      I train occasionally. I love training. It is transfer of knowledge.
      So, the slideshare presentations give me two satisfactions:
      – Dialogue with the readers
      – The opportunity to publish my ideas by not keeping them imprisoned in my chest.
      I make living from my Phenomena Communications Company. We started with the ambition to go From Local to Global. In less than three years we have offices in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and very soon in UAE.
      How we succeed? That is a story by itself. We aim always to turn “goods” to best.

  2. Freakish timing. Next Tuesday my summer leadership team moves into camp to spend four days in live training to put practice to the video and virtual training we’ve been doing for weeks.

    Our entire training metaphor is the Orchestra Conductor. This is the piece of the pie I was still looking for to present on our last day. AWESOME timing. Freakish, but awesome. Thanks for providing this image for my team’s training next week. I haven’t read it yet. But I was told just the other day that there is a chapter in the book Habitudes about the Orchestra Conductor as a leadership metaphor.

  3. When I was growing up, I played in an orchestra and am still friends with our conductor. This is a powerful example of leadership and one that these kids will always remember. Thanks to you, so will the rest of us.

    • Skip, great to see you here. Thank you. My conductors have been some of my greatest leadership teachers. Glad for the continued investment of musicians in my children’s lives.

  4. An incredible visual. Average leaders hop in the passenger seat and kindly allow people to chauffeur them. GREAT leaders can get out of the car, hand over the keys and say “it’s all yours, you’ll do great.” I am inspired, this is a great lesson, thank you.

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