How Jazz Bands Might Have The Winning Concept For Business Teams

Sitting on the train from Vienna to Prague, I feel empowered and amazed. I love Vienna. It's a city I enjoy visiting, a city I consider home, having lived there as a child for five happy years.

The reason for my current amazement were two concerts I attended in Vienna this weekend with Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra from New York. I like listening to jazz, but cannot claim to being a big jazz connoisseur. The title of one of the concerts however intrigued me to embark on this weekend concert getaway: ‘What is Jazz?’.

As a fan of educational concerts I was curious. Leonard Bernstein’s ‘Young People’s Concerts’ inspired me to investigate and explore the concept of transferring skills from one discipline to another. The result was Music & Leadership, later rebranded to ConductVision.

Jazz is one of the topics in ConductVision’s team building training program. Recently we’ve re-crafted it to Jazz Up Your Team’s Potential. There was a reason for this. The developments and challenges brought on by the pandemic have changed the workforce landscape. Trainings in human skills need to reflect these changes.

Hence my curiosity to see a jazz concert performed by some of the best jazz musicians. Both concerts were superb. Musicianship at its very best. What intrigued me were the behaviours and communication skills between the players. I identified over 20 behaviours and skills that made the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra a great team delivering an outstanding performance.

Here are the top 10.

1. Great leadership is invisible

Wynton Marsalis, the leader of the JLCO, sat at the back among the players. He was in no way physically detached from the orchestra. Looking at the orchestra he was just one of the players. What identified him as a leader was that he was the one who spoke about the music, introduced the main players before each song, and after the song finished, gave open praise to those players. During the concert all the applause went to individuals members of the orchestra after a successful solo, and to the whole orchestra. Marsalis did not ask for any applause for himself. You didn't see his leadership. You felt it.

2. They observe what others are doing

During the performance it was amazing to see how members looked at each other, paid attention to how their colleagues were playing, supporting them with their gaze and applauding together with the public after a played solo. A great example of passing to each other the joy of music and music-making.

3. Recognition and praise is immediate