Through teamwork classes and leadership training in my socially-focused MBA, it is increasingly clear that one’s management style is nuanced and tempered by an understanding of all your project variables. I was recently discussing leadership styles and their effect on creativity with a mentor of mine in the College of Business. My mentor recommended an interesting TED talk (which is great, because I love TED talks) by orchestra conductor Itay Talgam. In this entertaining talk, Talgam discusses the different styles and range of approaches of six well-known conductors. At the heart of his presentation are hilarious examples that illustrate a few key points: Leadership must be present, without micro-managing; Control is not a zero sum game, it is a process and a dialogue; Content-driven management maintains a sensitivity to the project and mission.
Talgam’s talk reminded me of Sun Tzu and his seminal work, The Art of War, which begins by describing the importance of knowing your terrain, opponent, and resources. Neither orchestra conducting nor mission-driven business need to be thought of as warfare, but both are served by strategic management. Leverage your resources, embrace the project for what it is, and understand the terrain upon which it is exacted. Know your audience, your customer, your opponent. Know yourself.