The Marvelous Obligation of a Leader
My first professional job was as a writer and editor for a magazine on leadership.
By the time I left the publishing company, I had migrated to new product development. The internet hit in the mid-1990s, and I was in the right spot at the right time to be immersed in the online world. I left to start CZ twenty years ago this coming April 2.
As a young editor, I grew to loathe books on the topic of leadership.
One of my roles for the first couple years was selecting leadership books for review in the book section of the magazine. I had stacks upon stacks of galleys of pre-released books and recently released books on my desk. They all began to sound the same. I scanned the title and the subtitle, thumbed through the introduction, and skimmed the first chapter. In less than ten minutes, I could distill the gist of each book. It was a high volume, mass consumption review process.
And to this day, I struggle to pick up a book on leadership. The topic bores me and maybe even slightly annoys me.
Melodic PleasureHowever, a quote on leadership by Pat Matheny, an American jazz guitarist and composer, recently snagged my attention. I’m not a jazz aficionado, but somewhere in rural North Dakota in the early 1980s, I improbably stumbled upon "The Pat Methany Group" and its amazing album, American Garage, a euphony of melodic jazz guitar pleasure.
Recently, Lyle Mays, a keyboardist, composer and arranger best known for his long association with the guitarist, died.
Matheny commented on Mays death in a Facebook post: “There was a valuable lesson I learned early on from my most important mentor, Gary Burton; when you start a group, you have an obligation to choose the best musicians you can possibly find.”
Matheny goes on: “The mandate of the bandleader as I understood it from Gary ... was to offer the most talented players every opportunity to develop the things that they are most interested [in] to the highest degree possible under your auspices; to create a platform that intersects with what your goals are as a leader, but also a zone that provides a world open to exploration and expansion for everyone.”
Leadership AspirationWhat got me was Matheny's “… to create … a zone that provides a world open to exploration and expansion for everyone.”
Most jobs are not like that of a bassist or keyboardist in a jazz ensemble, but imagine a work culture where the leader has a bigger vision for your life than just how you fit into his or her top three goals for the quarter. You might just start to care more about the work itself.
What a marvelous aspiration for a leader!