What businesses can learn from the arts

PICTURE A LECTURE session at a business school and you probably envisage students gazing at screens filled with equations and acronyms. What you might not expect is choristers attempting to sing “O clap your Hands”, an eight-part anthem composed by Orlando Gibbons and first performed in 1622. But Bartleby was treated to this delight, and others facing MBA students, on a visit to Saïd Business School in Oxford earlier this year.

There was a catch. Some of the students had to try conducting the choir. The first to take the challenge was a rather self-confident young man from America. It didn’t take long for him to go wrong. His most obvious mistake was to start conducting without asking the singers how they would like to be directed, though they had the expertise and he was a complete tyro.

The experience was doubtless chastening, but also instructive. The session, organised by Pegram Harrison, a senior fellow in entrepreneurship, cleverly allowed the students to absorb some important leadership lessons. For example, leaders should listen to their teams, especially when their colleagues have specialist knowledge. All they may need to do, as conductors, is set the pace and then step back and let the group govern itself.

It was noticeable, too, that the choir managed fairly well even if the conductors...



via Business Feeds

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