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7 leadership skills I learned as a musician that make me a better business leader

It is quite common knowledge today that playing a musical instrument develops creativity, analytical skills, awareness. Today as business leader and entrepreneur, I realise that many skills I learnt as a young violinist help me run my company as well as manage my team.

Developing good leadership skills today is a hot topic. The number of books, articles, blogs written on leadership is amazing. Good communication, cooperation, problem solving are skills that we seek to develop to become good business leaders.  

I found my inspiration to becoming a good business leader in my music career. Here are 7 leadership skills I learnt in my early childhood and which today are for me of immense value.

1. Teamwork

​As a 6 year old violinist I played with my sister who accompanied me on the piano. This was for me the first experience of collaboration and teamwork. I learned to listen to my fellow team member, understand the dynamic of taking on leadership roles as well as adapting to a more supporting role. I learned it was very important to be there for your co-player, adapt, adjust, cover up. The most important lesson I learnt was that I cannot do it all myself. An important lesson for a future business leader.

2. Effective Communication

Playing together with fellow musicians, it is highly important to communicate effectively. A music performance is a dynamic, quick, no nonsense activity. I learned that in order to produce a successful performance I had to communicate my ideas timely, clearly and precisely. For business leaders, effective communication is a key skill.

3. Self-Awareness

Violin practice helped me understand my character, temperament, ambitions and feelings. At an early age I developed a sense of accomplishment, understood what I wanted and how to achieve it. This is a priceless asset I have transferred to my role as a business leader.

4. Problem solving

Mastering a musical instrument is a tremendous accomplishment. Along the road to achieving mastery, musicians early on encounter a number of challenges and obstacles and most  important of all learn to deal with them on a regular basis. As a musician I learnt that problem solving is part of the process and that I can pick up valuable lessons along the way. This has been an invaluable experience for me as a business leader.

5. Cooperation

Working towards a common goal, musicians learn to cooperate well with other musicians. It  is a key skill for every musician. Music partners are chosen on thier abilities to work together, understand and support each other. From my concert performing experience, a successful performance owed much to the good cooperation between musicians. Isn't good cooperation among employees a key factor for every company's success?

6. Commitment 

One must practice every day. Period. This is what every young musicians learns very quickly. If you want to play well, you must play every single day. Commitment is one of the key values musicians possess. Musicians are passionate about their music and music-making, willing to make sacrifices from early age. Many successful business companies will admit that they too owe their success to perseverance and commitment. 

7. Managing Stress

I gave my first concert when I was 6. I cannot remember much, but I must have had stage fright. I still do. Managing stress is very important for every musician. Mastering the technical aspects of the instrument, facing stage fright when performing in front of an audience are challenges most musicians face early on. In dealing with stress in the business environement, I realised the processes I learnt as a musician can be fully implemented in my role as a business leader. The way to managing stress in both industries is practically identical.

Business leaders may look to other industries for valuable lessons in developing leadership skills. Music offers business executives ideas and creative solutions on how to discover and build one's own leadership style. Embracing these leadership lessons may transform your leadership skills today.

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