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Ben Zander, inspired by Libraryguy, on giving an 'A' on day one

by The Story Teller May 2, 2012

OK, I read libraryguy's list of inspiring authors and notice Ben and Rosamund Zander are among them. So, inspired by that, I have reached into my story bag to find some inspiring words from the orchestra conductor and leadership consultant Benjamin Zander. Here goes:

Give everyone an 'A' before they start

Zander believes that every student is an "A" student and he demonstrates this by giving everybody in his class an "A" the very first day. He then asks the students to write him a letter dated one year later. The letter must begin "Dear Mr. Zander, I got my A because…" and must then describe the person they will become during that year. Zander explained that the students fall in love with the person they describe in the letter and that they try hard to become that person. They are all "A students" and they behave like such.

"My job as a leader is to awaken the possibility in others”.

"The 'A' offers possibilities for both mentor and student or manager and employee, reducing the disparity in power between them which can become a distraction and an inhibitor, drawing energy away from productivity and development.”

"I am a contribution"

Zander believes that better performance is achieved when people play the game of "I am a contribution," rather than the success/failure game where everybody competes for power, success and position. He called this world the world of the "downward spiral", where you can always find blame, obstacles, fault, and threat. However, naming oneself and others as a contribution, (as he asks each and every member of his orchestra to do) produces a shift away from self-concern and engages us in a relationship with others that creates an area in which we make a difference.“A leader should never doubt for one moment the capacity of the people he's leading,"

I've put a nice story over in Storyville about how Zander achieved something remarkable with two young orchestras of American and Cuban musicians - demonstrating great leadership that we can all learn from; and that, in fact, underpins the workings of The Leadership Hub.