© Wolfgang Schmidt

„Leadership and the art of orchestra conducting”

Language: German/English
Location: Stuttgart/flexible

Previous musical knowledge is not required



Conducting an orchestra provides an analogy for the theme of leadership like no other activity. Whereas, for a large part of the last century, leading an orchestra was still seen as a way for a person with innate leadership qualities to exercise almost absolute power, today the task of the conductor is rather to shape an ensemble of highly specialised individualists into a team through a process of two-way communication in order to deliver the highest level of performance with precision and yet also creativity when it comes to giving a concert.

In the seminar “Leadership and the art of orchestra conducting”, the principles of successful leadership communication are addressed, looking in particular at systemic leadership and non-verbal means of communication, and these principles are then applied in working together with the orchestra. The special aspect here is the immediate feedback which the seminar participants receive in response to their individual leadership style when they are working with the orchestra.

“Systemic leadership means leading in an individual way, having your own flexible style and being able to adapt this to the circumstances, the organisation and the people you are leading, instead of simply working in a schematic fashion with standardised tools” (Daniel Pinnow). As well as rational and observable aspects, systemic leadership also includes the affective hidden aspects such as the distribution of power, group dynamics and value systems. Furthermore, there is a deliberate focus on a variable which remains a blind spot in the eye of the observer with many other approaches – the manager themselves.

Creativity, close contact with the customer and a fast reaction time are some of the outstanding virtues of successful companies. This was established in a survey of over 1,500 managers from 60 countries and 33 industries. According to Pinnow, when considering which management skills are the most important, creativity is the most important resource by a long way. Experimentation, fast learning and a focus on innovation – this is how creativity becomes tangible and can be experienced in a fascinating way in the collaboration with the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra.

Learning goals

Becoming aware, observation, being in control of your own leadership style. “A look says more than a thousand words” – acquiring a basic understanding of non-verbal communication according to Allhoff as an important factor in the communication skills of a manager, and its application in practice in working with the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra. A theoretical basic understanding of the systemic leadership theory according to Pinnow and its link to the leadership scenario when conducting an orchestra. Actual experience of the impact of the various different models of leadership (from “Great Man theory” to systemic leadership) on the performance and reaction of the orchestra.