Brenda’s Blog

The maestro as a leader: A lesson in empowerment

February 29, 2024

Picture this: A maestro stands in front of a large orchestra, conducting a concerto in a big music hall. Suddenly, in the middle of the score, the maestro steps down from the pedestal, makes his way toward the violin section, scoots the lead violinist over, sits down, picks up the violin, and starts playing the violinist’s part.

It would be hard to imagine that, right? We all know it’s not the maestro’s job to play for the violinist. That’s just not the way it works.

Yet leaders in organizations worldwide often fall into the trap of regularly performing tasks assigned to their direct reports, rather than effectively guiding and empowering their teams to accomplish those tasks. This tendency is common across all levels of leadership, including the C-Suite. Instead of delegating responsibilities fully, leaders often usurp the roles of their team members, which undermines their expertise and potential for growth.

That reminds me of a quote from my book, Would YOU Want to Work for YOU?

Don’t BE the expert.  LEAD the experts.

If you find yourself doing the work of someone who reports to you, pause, and ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have the right “violinists” on your team?
  • Do you believe in your team members enough to trust and delegate appropriately?
  • What can you to do help them grow and develop the skills they need to perform at their best?
  • How often are you having performance conversations with your team members?
  • In those meetings, what percent of the time do you really focus on their professional development vs. talking about projects and tasks could be involved in?

Leaders often believe it will be faster, better, and easier just to do a task themselves. But what is the implication of that on the organization, the team, the individual experts being led?



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