Not only am I the marketing professional that you see here, I am also a musician. I play guitar. Since I was 8. I started playing in nightclubs when I was 15. I have learned a ton from music and playing in bands. Much of it can be applied to business and management.
When you are in a band, there are two extremes of relative talent. One extreme is that you are the best player in the band. Because of this, you call the shots, coach others and have the loudest voice in deciding what songs you play and how they are to be played. It feels good and feeds your ego. The output of this process is that the band makes music, so you’ve reached your goal.
However, this band is limited by your level of knowledge and proficiency. As you spend much of your time keeping the other players on track and teaching them to play “your way,” your playing fails to improve.
The other extreme is that you are the worst player in the band. Everyone else is more accomplished than you are. The roles are now reversed; They coach you, ask you to play things a certain way. Sometimes that’s tough. You have to work harder, step up to the quality of the band. Your ego is bruised when you reach your limitations.
On the other hand, this situation has many important rewards. The constant challenge forces you to improve. As the one getting coached, you are the beneficiary of advice from better players. You raise your game, learn new things and advance as a player.
I’ve seen both situations in business. Some managers and executives hire people who are somewhat junior and easily molded. Soon you have a stable of followers, not leaders. They can’t teach you anything, but they fall in line quickly. These folks will likely do it the way the boss likes it and the manager looks proudly at the situation he’s created. Nice work.
The other situation is when a manager hires only “A” players. Many of these folks will be experts in specific areas and often far more knowledgeable than the boss. These people are proactive. They may even challenge the boss and help improve the overall process. It takes a leader who is confident and comfortable in his or her own skin to thrive in this situation.
There are two undeniable outcomes here. The second band, where you are the least talented player, simply makes better music. The first band makes music but it’s limited by the average talent of the team. The second band is not. The other outcome is that in the band of better players, there more learning and growing. Everyone has to raise their game and luckily there are better players around to help them do that and to learn from.
Which band do you want to be part of? Take a look around you and ask, have I surrounded myself with top-notch experts in their specialties or less-talented followers? The answer may surprise you!
What has your experience been? Have you observed both of these situations?
You can connect with Eric on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ericlundbohm/
Follow his updates on Twitter @lundbohm