Behind the Scenes

The more I think, the more confused I get. Leadership is a word that often gets thrown out without second thought. Scholarship and university applications ask to list previous positions of leadership held by the applicant. From this standpoint, leadership is solely about status assigned through a title. However, I am realizing that leadership is way more complex. What does it mean for me to be a leader within a global context? (I still don’t have an answer to this looming question.)

Last week while continuing our study on leadership, I was asked to watch this video: Lead like the great conductors. The speaker in the video, Itay Talgam, attempts to make a metaphor comparing various music conductors with different types of leadership.

Itay showed a few videos displaying variations of conducting – from playful to commanding to dainty to carefree. The final clip is what concerns me. He ended with a video of an outstanding performance where the conductor stood still with his arms crossed while bopping his head to the music. The conductor seemed to put no effort into the performed piece. According to Itay, if all of the previous types of conducting he mentioned are combined then a conductor can reach this point of doing without doing.

However, I must put some resistance against this statement. The performance of the orchestra is all about the show the audience expects. The hard work, dedication, and tireless hours of practice that went into the musical piece are not directly conveyed through the conductor’s performance during a concert. The ultimate result is the quality of the music that the orchestra plays. It’s a show! – whether solemn or sprightly.

Most of the time, viewers only pay attention to the final product and do not give credit to those that lead everything behind the scenes. Note: I am not denying the credit needed to be given to those in the performance. Whether it is mostly the collaboration of the orchestra, the commanding of the conductor, or a combination of both, one cannot judge where the leadership originated from by the performance.

I have found this very relatable to my time in Europe with the PGS program. Some amazing, university distinguished professors have come through the program and pushed me to limits I never thought I could reach. For example, Paul Heilker made me really think about what my exigency is – what is the issue that I cannot keep quiet about. Although I wish I could solve all the world problems, I realized that I need to find a place where I want to focus my time and emotions. From conversations with him along with experiences within my group project on human trafficking, I have realized that I have a passion and compassion for women who are trafficked. The final output of the project is still in the air, but I know that whatever it is I cannot give all the credit to myself or even my group. Credit must be given to those that have pushed me and helped me further pursue this passion.

I encourage anyone reading this to think about the hidden leaders in your life. Most likely there is someone or many people who have helped lead you to where you are now. The show may be amazing, but don’t forget about behind the scenes. Without those people, the show would never go on.

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