Harmony: Leadership ‘Notes’ from CMA Music Fest

Nashville, Tennessee is often referred to as Music City.  And if you are near this middle Tennessee town in June you will experience CMA Music Festival, an annual event full of concerts, artist meet and greets, and fans everywhere!  It’s an event made for die-hard country music fans.

Night after night concerts are held in Nashville’s downtown.  And where there’s good music there is harmony which is the topic of this week’s blog post.

What is harmony? The technical definition, for you non-music lovers, is the use of simultaneous pitches, tones, or chords that creates a pleasing sound to the ear.  Click here to hear a great example of harmony from the Zac Brown Band.

So how does harmony fit into this week’s leadership focus?

Well, it’s an often overlooked truth in the workplace.  Harmony, not unison creates unity in the workplace.

Pause a moment and let that thought sink in a bit.  Why?  Because so often, we fall into the trap of stressing unity through unison.  So let’s dig into that truth a bit more.  Consider these three aspects of harmony that impact your leadership approach:

#1  The whole is greater than the sum of its parts
The vision and direction of your team establishes the strategy of its performance while the path to achieve that vision comes to life through the diversity of skills, abilities and passions of your team.  We know every employee brings a unique skill set to a team. Some are analytical while others are keep perspective of the bigger picture. If the team were comprised of only visionaries, no one could execute and vice versa.  By tapping into these unique skill sets, your team can achieve its vision through a comprehensive strategy – one that meets the needs of your customer, shareholders and team members. 

#2  Sameness can decrease depth
Monotone, flat and one-dimensional are not adjectives most people desire as characteristics of their team.  And those descriptors are the potential outcomes if we continuously seek unison among our employees.  To clarify, unison in our desire to meet customer needs or agreement in goals is critical.  The danger lies in our hesitancy to allow (or even encourage) different approaches and ideas to reach those shared goals.

#3  Innovation always lives outside the box
Every innovated product or service today began with one person asking the question, “what if?”.  Someone questioned the status quo, saw a future need, and explored possibilities.  Outside the box thinking can only exists in those environments that encourage constructive conflict.  It is a climate that welcomes questions such as “Is there a better way to do this?” or “How can we meet a need our customers don’t even know they have?”  If we constantly strive for unison (same thinking) in our team, no one will ever ask this question.

The 2011 CMA Musical Festival is now in the books.  And for the thousands of fans who visited our city, I hope they got to see the artist of their dreams and enjoy some great music.  And no doubt, those songs provided some great harmony too.  After all, that’s real music.

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