The job of a conductor in an orchestra is to channel synergy.
An orchestra is a complex entity. It has combinations of several varieties of each instrument type – wind, percussion and string. The conductor has a special job here. She ensures that every instrument makes a contribution its own way – the shrill trombone, the rich violin, the soothing piano and the crashing cymbal. She has to make room for the high pitched harp, as well as the low pitched double-bass. It is her job to have the furthest member of the audience listen to the tiny triangle sitting in the corner. And most importantly, this diverse collection of instruments has to harmonize to transport the audience to feel whatever the composer felt when they wrote that musical piece.
In meetings, where people gather to brainstorm, there are often conductors in attendance. These are the people who facilitate the session – give each person their space to shine and channel ideas to ensure that the sum is greater than the individual parts. These facilitators are selfless. They put the success of the team before themselves. They are empathetic listeners, with whom the team feels comfortable in opening up.
However, there is a telling difference. Conductors are celebrated as leaders of their orchestras. At the end of the performance, they step forward and receive the audience’s applause on behalf of their group. Facilitators can often go unacknowledged – especially if they are coordinating among a group of peers. Credit can often go to the people who come up with the ideas rather than the person that channels them.
In a room full of chest-beating pioneers, it is the facilitator who often ensure that the best ideas come to the foreground, while keeping themselves in the background. And this is why, they deserve our applause and our gratitude.