Monday, June 27, 2011

Pastoral Musical Leadership Styles - Part 4 - The Democrat

No, not a political party,
but a leadership style
where the whole group has voice.
For the most part,
my leadership style is participative.
That means
that I like to allow the people I lead,
which in this case,
is the members of the music ministry,
via a style that is participative, democratic.
I like them to have a voice,
an opinion in the music we use.
The final decisions always rest with me
as I am the music director.

Using a democratic leadership approach
the choir members truly feel like a part of a team,
like their input matters.
And quite frankly,
it does.

don’t get me wrong.
A democratic leadership style
doesn’t mean
that if someone says,
“I don’t like that song,”
we don’t do that song.
I’m speaking here
more of a participation
in the creativity.

For example,
I may choose to introduce a new song.
In my mind
I can hear the alto section
or the sopranos
or percussion instruments in a particular fashion.
Maybe it’s my own creative vision
or maybe it’s what’s printed in the music,
but I usually have a clear sound
dancing around in my head.
And then we get to rehearsal
and Ana finds a unique and outstanding descant
in her mind
that I never found in mine.
Nellie finds that alto harmony
that totally meshes with what Ana is doing.
Not only is the finished piece of music
much grander than what I could come up with alone,
these ladies are contributing,
are becoming owners of the ministry.

The danger of this leadership style
is that it can lead to a choir discussion
as opposed to a choir rehearsal.
But a good leader
knows how to pull back into rehearsal mode
and must decide
which of the various musical suggestions,
if any,
to put into play.

I have found this leadership style
truly promotes creativity,
truly motivates people to participation.
In fact,
sometimes it’s almost like we have a psychic connection.
Marcy starts playing her guitar
and I know exactly where she is going.
Sometimes we just laugh out loud
because we realize that something strange,
but creatively beautiful is going on.
That strange and beautiful thing
won’t happen
if the leader only follows a militant leadership style,
always barking out commands
and never giving choir members a voice.

Another good thing
about this leadership style. . .
. . .(reminder:
I’m discussing a pastoral music leader). . .
. . .is that it is a great way
to find those talents
that lay hidden, dormant
in your members.

who played percussion with a group I direct
for many years,
is absolutely The Queen
of hand held percussion instruments.
She’d hear a song
and instantly know
which instrument is best
and quickly find the rhythm. .
. . . she’d know when to enter
to create interesting dynamics,
she’d know when to change it up.
Dolores is clearly a lady
of the rhythm section.
That being the case,
why would I,
a lady of the keyboard world,
ever try to limit her creativity?
Let your people
(those with rhythm)
creatively play with rhythm toys!!!

Heavy sigh. . . .
. . . I so-o-o-o miss Dolores.
She moved to Chicago. . . .

the rehearsals can get messy
using this leadership style.
But if you aren’t flexible
you probably shouldn’t be
a music director anyway.
The mess
is a part of the creative process.
Enjoy it!!

the group sometimes
ends up spending a great deal of time
on some songs,
but that’s why they call it rehearsal.
And really,
your rehearsal agenda
should always be looking far enough ahead
into the future.
If all you are concerned about in your rehearsal agenda
is what’s coming up this Sunday,
you’ve totally missed the mark
as a director anyway.
If in June
you aren’t already at least thinking
about September’s repertoire of new stuff,
you’re missing the boat.
Plan far enough in advance
so that your Sunday stuff
will take care of itself.
Advance planning
gives your choir time
to get creative.
Let your choir,
encourage your choir,
to participate in the creativity.

In the end,
if only the printed music score
or only the director’s creativity is used
the world will miss out
on some fine music
that could be,
but never was.

And what if the director
isn’t so creative?
And what if the music in question is great,
but the music score is lousy?
Should the choir
and the music ministry
suffer because of these two draw-backs?
I certainly hope not.
if there is talent in the ranks
just waiting to be developed,
and used
for the Glory of Our God.

one person cannot possibly know everything.
One person cannot possible create everything
when it comes to music.

in the end,
we are doing more than
preparing music for mass.
The choir is a small ecclesial community.
As directors
we must do all we can to build that community,
not just from the neck up
(learning new music)
but from the neck down
(participation from the heart).

And while I may use
the other leadership styles
on an “as needed” basis,
this is the leadership style,
the democratic/participative leadership style,
I have claimed for myself.

It brings forth flexibility and creativity.
It creates commitment and community.
It’s messy and fun!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pastoral Musical Leadership Styles - Part 3 - The Delegator

The delegator
is the person who lets others make decisions
and really doesn’t interfere much after that.
In a good situation,
the leader would have competent leaders
in various areas
that he/she would trust
to make good decisions
and then carry those decisions out.
This is not about
making other people do your work.
It’s about working together
with others who capable.

The delegator
would need to able to spot
when one of the team leaders
were not doing their job
or were not capable of doing said job.
And, if necessary,
train that person to do it,
or maybe adjust personnel
so that the job gets done,
moving the person who lacks a particular skill
to another area where they perform well.
The point is
that a good delgator
is able to spot the skill/talent
of a particular person
and work with that person
to develop and hone that talent.

The delegator needs to be a person who trusts.
The hard part could be that
sometimes the person who is called to do a particular job
might not do it
the way the delegator would.
But the delegator needs to let that go
and trust that the job is getting done,
even if in a somewhat different manner.
To step in and control
would be to lose respect,
which, in turn,
leads to lack of motivation,
lack of initiative,
and lack of creativity.

Another danger of this leadership style
is that the leader might just turn around
and blame the person delegated
if the job goes wrong.
A true delegator
would be keeping on eye on things,
watching (not controlling)
and help set things in the right directions
if he/she sees things taking a wrong a turn.

This type of leadership
could work very well
if the choir is large
or if there are many instrumentalists.
Rather than schedule sectional rehearsals
the choir director
may choose competent leaders
for each section
and have them rehearse
in a different room,
having all sections return
to main rehearsal room
to rehearse together.

(. . . but even so,
each section leader
would then assume
one of the other leadership types. . )

Quite often,
I have learned,
is that if there is trust in the director
and trust in each other as a choir,
members of the choir
might take initiative
and assume certain tasks
without officially being delegated to do so.

Once one of my choirs
took a trip to Mexico.
During the initial stages of the planning of this trip
I fell ill.
Connie took care of creating and sending demo tape to basilica.
Marcy found the hotel and ground transportation.
Another person took care of
getting us a keyboard and sound, etc., etc.
These people didn’t wait
for the official word from the director
to start organizing
because they knew that these tasks
were going to be handed out anyway.
They took the initiative
and went about the work
of planning a choir trip. . .
. . . wow. . .
No small wonder I love this choir so much!!!!

I suppose a part of the reason
that I, personally,
don’t use this leadership style
is that I usually have directed
small choirs.
But I do see where this style of leadership
can be effective.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pastoral Musical Leadership Styles - Part 2 - The Autocrat

The first leadership style
I would like to discuss in this blog
is the autocratic leader.

The autocratic leadership style
is authoritarian, militant.
The autocratic leader
tells people what to do.
This leader tells how to do it,
when to do it.

let me remind blog readers
that I’m writing about church leadership here,
the music ministry.
as I describe the pros and cons
of the autocratic leader,
please keep that in mind.

The autocratic leadership style
may be necessary on occasion.
There may be factors involved,
such as time constraints.
A certain task must be accomplished
and the leader tells people what must be done
to meet the deadline.

Last year,
I took the children’s choir to Faithfest,
a festival of church music
in the area where I live.

The sound equipment
was provided for by the sponsoring church.
But it needed to be set up
according to my specifications.
When the children began arriving
I quickly told a few of the parents
to separate the kids
into “choir 1" and “choir 2”
(Soprano and alto).
I told another parent
to make sure that those children
who played percussion instruments
got what they needed.
I went inside to work with sound team.
When mics were in place,
I had guitarists take their place.
Then I sent a parent out to gathering area
to bring Choir 2
and told them specifically to leave Choir 1 outside
until I called for them.
When Choir 2 was in place
I called for Choir 1.

The parents understood well
the time constraints
and the set-up necessary.
They followed my directions.

This is a good example
of how and when
an autocratic leadership style is necessary.
If there is a good relationship
between the leader and the group of folks involved
this style of leadership can prove most effective,
as it did for us for this event.

The danger of this leadership style
is that it could lead to a lack of respect.
The danger of this leadership style
is that the leader could abuse the power,
be more of a controller than a leader.

Another danger
is lack of communication.
While the autocratic leader
may have clearly set goals
and have a vision of things,
they often do not share this
with the group they lead.
This can lead to conflict and friction.
People may resist the leader’s request,
even though what the autocratic leader is requesting
is for the betterment of the group.

If this is the only leadership style that is used
a lack of respect
and a lack of communication
will not be the only problems.
It will be hard to motivate people.
And where there is little motivation
there is even less creativity.
This could be death to a choir,
to a music ministry.

don't get me wrong.
This style of leadership
is necessary at times.

I use this style of leadership sparingly.
To be quite honest,
it just isn’t me.
But I must admit,
this style of leadership
served us well
on the day of the Faithfest event.
But an every day leadership style?
Not me.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pastoral Musical Leadership Styles - Part 1 - Different Styles for Different People

Leadership styles.
There are many.
There are three I would like to discuss
in this blog.

And I would like to do this
because someone recently
challenged me on my leadership style.
While I cannot be certain
on what was going on
in that person’s mind,
I think the discord comes from the fact
that he and I have totally different leadership styles.
And because of this
we sometimes tend to view things
from different angles.

And to be quite honest,
sometimes I like it when there is a bit of friction.
It forces me to think,
forces me to articulate
what I may already know in my heart,
but haven’t yet verbalized.

this is not going to be a
Dale Carenegie or
Anthony Robbins
spewing of verbage.
These are just Random Rubi Ramblings
of thoughts
that have been dancing around in my head
for the last week and a half.

near as I can figure,
there are three main styles of leadership:
The Autocrat, The Democrat, and The Delegator.

to me,
is about motivating people.
We have a task about us:
the music ministry.
Our purpose for being
is to provide that musical leadership
for the People of God.
My role is to direct.
“Duh,” you say?
But it’s about more than directing a choir.
It’s about providing direction.
A leader who does not provide direction
cannot possibly hope to motivate.
Without motivation
the music ministry dies.

all who are leaders
go from one style to another
as the situation and circumstances demand.
But basically,
we tend to follow one style of leadership
more than the others.

First of all,
let me say
that no one call tell you
what sort of leadership style
you should have
as your principal style of leadership.
And this is where
my momentary frustration
with the person was,
they wanted me to be something
I know I am not.
I had to verbalize for myself
what my style of leadership is.
Many of us
have probably never even given it much thought.
We just do it.

Many things may be involved
in developing your own leadership style.
Your age could be a factor.
Your life/work experience could be another.
Your education could be yet another factor.
Culture has A LOT to do with leadership style.
Men, for the most part,
tend to lead very differently than women.
And quite often,
when what we are discussing
is a Pastoral Leadership style,
the leadership style
really depends on the circumstances.
For example,
the way I lead the children’s choir
is different
from the way I lead the women’s choir.

I know well
what my leadership style is.
But until now,
I haven’t verbalized it.
And to say I am something,
also is saying that
I am not something else.
as I describe the various leadership styles
in upcoming blog entries,
please be aware
that I am about a self-description here,
writing stream of consciousness,
as I so oft do,
to release the words from my heart
and on
to this electronic parchment.

Three leadership styles:
The Autocrat, The Democrat, and The Delegator.

Can you guess
which one I claim?
And which one are you???