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From Rock Stars to Business Leaders: Collaboration Genius From Musical Experiences

Posted by Diane Lai on Thu, Apr 03, 2014

Collaboration can happen anywhere—including, and oftentimes, outside of corporate walls or the standard collaboration-genius-from-rock-stars-to-business-leadsconference room. At Esna, we’re all about promoting the message that collaborative working strategies are applicable and advantageous for every industry or vertical and across all teams, no matter how unique or “out there” it may seem. That’s why when we stumbled upon a new report from Forbes, we couldn’t help but dig deeper.

The scene: a late night band rehearsal session. The vibe: growing increasingly tense. Alan Schaefer, lead songwriter for the band Five Star Iris, noticed that tonight’s rehearsal was nothing like the last session the the band had. After the band’s bassist commented that he wasn’t feeling it, Schaefer thought, “That’s frustrating…we were high-fiving leaving rehearsal last time.”

That experience stuck with Schaefer throughout his career, even when he transitioned from being a front man to a business leader. What this article from Forbes proves is that unconventional experiences—for example, those shared by a rock band—serve as stellar examples of teamwork at the business level.

Here are our favorite takeaways from Schaefer’s unique tale:

Your team members need to be heard

It’s difficult to sit and listen to every single team member to see how he or she feels about a new technological investment or an existing one. But you need to take the time to do so. When Five Star Iris bassist said he wasn’t feeling their tune anymore, Schaefer admitted that his first reaction was to tell the band member to just deal with it. Thankfully he didn’t dismiss the comment; rather, he discovered “something really amazing” after giving the band member a voice. As it turns out, the bassist was responding to a change in the drum kick pattern. The band was able to change the bass part of the song to the bassist’s liking and the issue was easily resolved—all by giving someone a platform to be heard.


Avoid ego issues

This point leads us to another noteworthy lesson when it comes to enterprise collaboration:  Egos need to be checked at the door.  Admittedly, there can be ego issues among executives or business leaders similar to those experienced by the lead singer of a rock band. For this, Forbes taps into teamwork coach Michael Stratford, who believes that engagement is key to keep inclusiveness and equality front and center. Make it clear that a high and mighty attitude won’t be tolerated.


Every team member plays an irreplaceable role

Every member of a band plays a unique role. It’s why things fall apart when the lead singer drops out or when the band gets in a huge fight. There’s no way that the bassist can hop on the drums; even if he could, he wouldn’t be able to fulfill the role as completely as the former drummer. Just as there is a unique individuality that each band member brings to the stage that makes the crowd go wild, there’s a uniqueness the employees within each department of your business possesses to keep your customers life-long ones. Don’t ever forget that they will be harder to replace than you think.

Click here to read the Forbes article in full, then let us know what you think are the top lessons to be learned.


Topics: business communications, better collaboration, employee happiness

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