Life, Leadership and Business

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

The "Space" of Leadership

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The Space in Leadership
3 Skills of Listening and Timing

Music is not in the notes, but in the silence between. Wolfgang Mozart

Music is in the space between the notes. Claude Debussy

The attribute of Space in Leadership can be compared to the space between notes in music. Whatever you preference of style, it seems that music appeals to people from all walks of life. It is true that each of us has our own choice as to our favourite groups or even style of music. It is also true, you would have to agree, that music is made up of notes and timing.


When considering the two quotes listed, we must be aware that a note in the song is followed by a quite space of time. It’s the notes stringed together with these pauses in between that allow for rhythm and tempo. Spaces between the notes determine the speed and rhythm of the music. If all the notes were played without the required timing, music would degrade into a block of noise.


In leadership, the notes of music would represent the various actions or tasks required. The spaces in between the notes would represent the rhythm and tempo of the leader’s involvement.

There is no doubt that a leader’s role changes with the needs of the individuals within his/her team.  (See 5 Phases of team development) As the group starts out, the leader is frequently involved; the notes are closer together so the pace is quick. But as the team evolve and finds direction, so the tempo of the leader’s involvement decreases.
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The main question of leadership is always “how much?” A leader should be able to determine how much effort, involvement and guidance is required within each opportunity for engagement with team members. The default answer is – the least amount of energy (input, involvement, control) required for the situation.

So, how does a leader determine “how much” SPACE in the form of authority, autonomy, accountability and responsibility is enough? The answer to this relies on the leader’s refined ability to Listen. As with all music appreciation, its value is determined by how well it is heard. The art and science of Listening will guide a great leader to the exact amount of effort and energy that should be applied to each and every situation encountered.

The Leader needs to “listen” to three things to help measure the level of engagement required: Listening to Education, Listening to Available Resource and Listening to Potential.

1.       Listening to Education: The education of the team or member plays an important role, even if the education is formal or informal. The experience and past success of an individual or of a team will help the leader gauge the exact amount of effort and energy to apply to the engagement. Teams or individuals are appointed because of their track record and history. Keep it in mind when determining the level of your involvement within a given situation.


2.       Listening to Available Resources: As a leader, ensuring your team or a member has all the required resources is vital to their success. Sometimes just pointing teams or members in the right direction to acquire resources is all that’s required. Advice on Efficient and effective use of resources could also be useful.


3.       Listening to Potential: This is a skill that should be sensitive to timing and volume. The intent of the leader is to grow team member, and challenging task provide the perfect platform. Be aware of challenging people too early, resulting in broken dreams and lost confidence. Listen closely to when the individual is ready for the growth of a challenge. Be ready with the first aid kit - for both you and your team member1

The skill of listening is one that is acquired and developed over time and enhanced with experience. Don’t be afraid to learn. Allow yourself to explore different styles of leadership, with varying volume, tempos and rhythms. Refining your “ear” will grow your reputation for truly great leadership abilities.
Other Articles on Quantum Theory Leadership by John Usher:
1. The Absurdity of Leadership
2. The 3 K's of Leadership
3. The Maths & Music of Leadership
4. Quantum Theory Leadership - a Definition

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