More effective leadership training is always a top priority and one New York City-based symphony conductor has stumbled upon a very unusual, but superior, method to push people to greatness. The Music Paradigm, accidentally designed by Maestro Roger Nierenberg not only cuts through bias but conditions participants to internalize the lessons they learn rather than consciously accepting or rejecting those lessons — it’s quite brilliant.
What Is The Music Paradigm?
Great leaders know the only difference between their company and their competition is how efficiently and how intelligently their people operate. And the one thing that drives that efficiency, is better leaders. Therefore the race is always on to find effective leadership training that is superior. The Music Paradigm is it.
Led and created by Maestro Roger Nierenberg, the Music Paradigm is unlike anything you’ve seen. His model was developed without method and completely by accident. He takes a symphony orchestra and completely surrounds leaders as he conducts and demonstrates leadership principles in real time.
Nierenberg hires the local symphony orchestra closest to the leadership training event as his partner. He only spends a few hours in advance with the orchestra to get to know them before they literally surround leadership participants, immersing them in the music and an unforgettable exercise. Because participants know the local symphony hasn’t been coerced or is a stunt, this makes the learning far more effective.
Each event is completely customized to the company and their leadership. As he begins, the orchestra is asked to display the behaviors that his client has informed him are challenges in their work culture. Participants have no choice but to watch and listen to the orchestra in a new way — a way that feels like a kind of magic mirror.
By demonstrating leadership principles and capturing real-time participant reactions, The Music Paradigm allows people to learn introspectively. In this way, Maestro Nierenberg is able to somehow bypass psychological objections that would typically be present if he simply gave them advice or instructed them on specifics. What they learn to become their own idea and therefore far more effective leadership training.
Because of the unexpected speed at which Nierenberg’s model is able to demonstrate leadership ideas, participants find it difficult to reject any specific ideas. The ideas come from visceral reactions within themselves that are undeniable, bypassing conscious filters. The most effective leadership training is the training you have no choice but to learn from.
The most amazing aspect of this entire model is how The Music Paradigm teaches listening. Many leaders understand on a basic level listening is probably important, but active, beneficial listening is extremely difficult to demonstrate. Because it’s hard to demonstrate, it’s also hard to teach. Nierenberg’s concept cuts deep into participants psyche, however.
He frequently asks the orchestra to play without the conductor — which most are quite capable of doing. But that’s when he mixes it up. He starts instructing the musicians to play in different styles or in different ways with no written music changes. To the leadership participants amazement, all orchestras are able to do it, even with their eyes closed. Why? Their extraordinary listening skills.
Nierenberg interviews the musicians, asking them how they pulled it off. They all begin to communicate how they are just exceptional listeners and when they’re playing it just feels like, as Nierenberg calls it, musical mind-reading. The Music Paradigm’s design guides ultra-active listening in real time, and because of this, it may be the most effective leadership training you could ever engage in.
If organizations are made up of ultra-active listeners, like these musicians, the entire company would be able to adapt and work together seamlessly. They would anticipate needs and challenges. They would adapt simultaneously with challenges. Instead, corporate workers and leaders isolate themselves.
Deep down inside we all understand this kind of listening is essential in an orchestra, but we assume, fatally, it doesn’t apply to our companies.
How did The Music Paradigm Happen?
It seems very abstract. Nierenberg was interested in expanding his customer base for classical music. His belief was that perhaps people were uncomfortable and felt shut out of classical music and with no opportunity to ease them into it, audiences wouldn’t grow. If audiences wouldn’t grow and the appetite for live orchestra performances diminished the art form may diminish as well.
To rectify this, he began experimenting on methods to bring the orchestra to the audience, rather than waiting for the audience to come to him. But when he started bringing his orchestra to business organizations something clicked.
Business executives started reporting it was the most powerful leadership training people had experienced. Because of this feedback, Niernebeg started to expand the model and affirmed business and corporate clients were far more interested in this type of leadership development than even those in his own industry and field. The Music Paradigm was born.
Today Nierenberg has worked with over 100 different orchestras, and some of the top organizations in the world like Microsoft, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, IBM, Lill, and a huge list of others. And within these organizations there any a few recurring themes and challenges organizations are working through.
Top Challenge Plaguing Effective Leadership Training
The issue plaguing effective leadership training in most large organizations today is employee engagement. Leader all across the board are struggling to motivate their people and excited them in company goals to the same degree leadership is.
Throughout his work with The Music Paradigm, Nierenberg explains a great number of organizations have a lot of incredible experience, but many employees get stuck in default mode, following orders and doing what they’re told. And if you want an innovative company, this is not a good mode for employees to be stuck in.
When employees become stuck in this “do what you’re told” mode, they withhold the true benefits and great ideas the company could benefit from. We’ve spoken about this idea many times on the Justin Brady Podcast. Organizations aren’t short on great ideas, they just aren’t hearing them.
Effective Leadership Training In Three Steps
Nierenberg says he has failed more times than he can count, but learning from those failures has been key in developing effective leadership training tactics through The Music Paradigm. He recounts one time in a performance where something went wrong that had never gone wrong before. He began asking himself why his gestures, designed to keep failure from happening, didn’t work and decided he needed a process for correcting failure. He goes through two steps every time a failure happens BEFORE he attempts the final step of solving it.
- What happened?
- What drove that action?
In leaders efforts to grow from failure, which is a great growth catalyst, all employee mindsets must be focused on continued growth and improvement. Everyone must be willing to grow and must embrace the idea of their own methods imperfection, and it starts with leadership.
It’s for these reasons I believe The Music Paradigm is the most effective leadership training I’ve probably ever heard of.
Listen to my full interview with Maestro Roger Nierenberg >