Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Leon Fleischer: ‘Leader Who Doesn’t Waste out Time’

The leadership guru, Warren Bennis was keen to interview Leon Fleischer, a prominent pianist and conductor. Fleischer kept turning Bennis down for an interview so Bennis attended musical festivals and left notes under his dressing room door but still he remained unsuccessful! One day in downtown Aspen, Colorado Bennis offered two of the cellists a ride to the festival. When he questioned them about Fleischer, one of them said, “I’ll tell you why he is great. He doesn’t waste our time.”

Bennis ultimately secured an interview with Fleischer and watched him work through rehearsals and performances. He linked the way he saw him work with that simple statement, “he doesn’t waste our time.” Every moment Fleischer was before the orchestra, he knew exactly what sound he wanted. He didn’t waste time because his intentions were always evident. What united him with other musicians was their concern with intention and outcome.

Bennis goes on to assert that the first competency in leadership is the management of attention. The trait most apparent in effective leaders is their ability to draw others to them, because they have a vision, a dream, a set of intentions, an agenda, a frame of reference.

Such leaders manage attention through a compelling vision that brings others to a place where they have not been before.

Geoff Pound

Image: Leon Fleischer