Practicing Maestro Leadership


Organizations Need a Conductor, Not a General

Launching and building an organization can push the skills of any leader to the limits. Someone who can master this leadership challenge can make a critical difference between creating a hum-drum organization and one that has high potential.

Who Are Effective Leaders? What Do They Do?

Leaders imagine a desirable future; communicate that vision to others; commit to action; and invest time, effort, and other resources to attract team members who can help make their vision happen.

The common belief is that a leader is close to the Hollywood image of John Wayne; an individual who is independent, bold, and heroic. This image is further enhanced by analogies from the field of battle: Generals plot strategies and tactics while guerilla fighters flank, attack, and kill the enemy. VERY MACHO!! If we come down a notch, the analogy is the field of sports. Coaches and captains lead players into victory. Much better, but still macho.

This image of a leader as rugged, ruthless, and macho is WRONG. In fact, it’s not only wrong but downright dangerous.

Let’s look at some traits that are found in successful leaders.

  1. VISION - This is the leadership quality that gets others to sign up. A vision is not simply the result of daydreaming but a passionate desire to do something. The leader must articulate this vision with fervor for people to “buy-in” to these goals and values. It’s from this team approach that all subsequent activities unfold.
  2. PERSISTENCE - This can overcome incredible obstacles and compensate for many weaknesses. The pressures on a leader are enormous: first for the organization to survive, then for it to stay alive, and finally for it to grow. The ability to keep the fold together requires tremendous sacrifices and talent.
  3. RISK REDUCERS - Leaders have to defy what is commonly seen as an extraordinary amount of risk. A leader not only has to tolerate this risk, uncertainty, and ambiguity, but he or she must continue to chip away at these. Calculated risks are taken after careful scrutiny. Because time is short, enlisting a talented team is a must when developing and implementing strategy.
  4. DRIVEN TO EXCEL - Leaders compete against self-imposed standards to attain challenging goals. They derive personal motivation from the challenge and excitement of creating and building rather than by STATUS AND POWER!!
  5. REALISTIC - The best leaders have a keen awareness of their own strengths and weaknesses and those of their partners. They are coldly realistic about what they can or cannot do and WHO CAN DO IT BETTER.

Leadership in emerging organizations needs patience, an ability to communicate tangible visions, and the skill to manage through others. Leaders in this situation are doers as well as visionaries; they must be able to resolve conflicts, know when to make concessions, and when to ask for them in order to develop a successful venture. They learn to get along with many constituencies, often with conflicting aims. Success comes when the leader is a mediator and negotiator, rather than a dictator.

Henry Miller, a well-known actor and producer, once said that “no one is great enough or wise enough for any of us to surrender our destiny to. The only way in which anyone can lead us is to restore to us the belief in our guidance.” An organization does not have enough golden handcuffs to attract and hold talented people. The attraction of joining and staying in a new venture are CHALLENGE, SHARED VISION, and a SENSE OF CONTRIBUTION. “Task-oriented” leadership is effective in many problem situations, however, it is totally inappropriate for a leader.

Leadership in this context has to be less macho and more maestro in it’s approach. While macho is meant to describe a bold, dominant, and telling style, maestro refers to an interactive leadership style exhibited by symphony conductors.

Although not a master of every instrument, successful maestros must use the talents of each and every musician available to them. The orchestration of a successful outcome under these circumstances, with a healthy respect for the talent of the group, is the maestro style of leadership.

Clearly, there are times when a stronger, more macho manner is necessary and times when a full maestro approach is best. Knowing when to apply which and maintaining the flexibility to do so is the essence of good leadership. Chances are, the successful approach often will be less macho and more maestro.

While it is very easy to fall into the MACHO method, it will be to your benefit to always look at the MAESTRO method. Leadership in a motorcycle rights organization requires more of a conductor. If you look around the country at the successful rights groups, you will find leadership that follows the MAESTRO style. THINK ABOUT IT!!

- Pappy Haag

Continue to Developing the Aura of Being in Charge…