Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Making Others Powerful

There is a captivating leadership video that focuses on Ben Zander, the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. One of Zander's penetrating assertions is that the conductor of an orchestra "depends for his power on his ability to make other people powerful." He is a conduit, the only one in the orchestra who does not make a sound. He is a conduit, Zander continues, of "possibility."

Zander describes how he helped empower his musicians by leaving a blank sheet of paper on each of their music stands. Upon the paper they could scribble any requests or suggestions or complaints.

One young woman complained that he was holding back in the crescendo of a particular piece of music. He read her note, and during that evening's performance brought forth the most massive crescendo he could imagine. She approached him afterwards, stunned, and declared, "You did my crescendo!"

As a writer, I have no powers but the gifts God has given me and the skills and insights I have cultivated through responding to those gifts. I depend for my power on my ability, through words, to make other people powerful. To help them see more clearly, feel more deeply, think more critically, love more fully, take action upon provocation and address things that matter.

I long to do another's crescendo, to bring out their humanity, their spirituality, their biggest and their best possibilities. All without making a sound.


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