Did you say, “Leading through Listening”?

To lead I must tell you where I am going, right?  Otherwise, how can you follow?

Earlier this week, I had a direct experience of a leader’s role in the harmony experienced in a group.  In an earlier post, I talked about the harmony experienced.  Today I focus on the leader’s role.

Maestro Nierenberg showed us that while talking has its role in leadership, listening has a much deeper and more impactful role.  He distinguishes three kinds of listening: what does not work; what does work; and what could be.  You can listen for what does not work, pointing out what needs to be corrected.  This works best for identifying little changes that might become important.  You can also listen for what does work, recognizing and acknowledging the capacities available in the group.  This listening shows the potential of the talent in front of you.  And, you can listen for what has not yet happened, envisioning what could happen.  This future-oriented listening clarifies your image of what could be.  As we experienced the results of these listenings, as they were reflected in the music that enveloped us from the orchestra he conducted, it became clear that each listening added value.  Maestro Niernberg ended by showing us what happened when he used all three, harmony and vibrancy.

From an Ecosynomics perspective, the Maestro is pointing at the way leaders relate to the three levels of perceived reality.  First of all, he suggests that listening is the high-leverage key for knowing what actually exists in the group.  Second, each listening corresponds roughly to a level of perceived reality.  Listening for the details in what does not work focuses on the things level of reality — what do we not have in the outcomes, yet?  Listening for what does work, the potential of the talent available in the group, focuses on the development level of reality — what capacities are we developing over time and how are we relating?  Listening for what could be looks directly at the possibility level of reality — what possibilities can we see?  Everyday experience suggests we interact routinely with all three.  The trick is how to work with all three at the same time, which we called either the path of enlightened things or grounded potential.  Through our direct experience in the room with the musicians, the Maestro showed that the best results come from working with all three, seeing what could be, and holding yourself and the group responsible for achieving that potential.

I am sitting IN the harmonic vibrancy!


I am sitting IN harmonic vibrancy!  In a conference room just off the MIT campus with 68 Executive MBAs from the MIT Sloan School of Management.  Sitting IN it, on a chair, right in the middle of harmonic vibrancy.  Maestro Roger Nierenberg is hosting this experience with two dozen professional musicians from the Boston area.  I FEEL the difference between a low vibrancy focus on one of the five primary relationships (self or other or group, in the inner circle of harmonic vibrancy) and the high vibrancy when all five primary relationships are strong (self and other and group and nature and spirit, in the outer circle of harmonic vibrancy).

Maestro Nierenberg, a leading orchestra conductor for decades, calls this the “Music Paradigm,” a direct experience of the relationships and agreements that generate the experience of higher levels of harmony, vibrancy, and abundance in a group and leadership’s role in hosting that experience — right there in the room.  Very cool!