What is leadership?
Recently in rehearsal I made a mistake. Slightly miscounted an entrance, and instead of coming in with the clarinet I left him hanging for a bar before I fixed it and joined in. I glanced back over my shoulder at him with a grinning apology – it was early morning for everyone and I wasn’t going to beat myself up over a minor counting error that won’t happen again.
As the movement ended, the bassoonist asked me what I had looked at her for. Was there a problem? Did she need to fix something? I was surprised, first, that she had registered my side eye at all, and had mistaken it as directed at her – and of course I apologized for disconcerting her, but it made me think.
Principal Oboe is a leadership position. Most of the time I am pretty hands-off. I do my job, I try to set the tone musically, I try to be a friendly and supportive colleague, I leave people alone to do their own jobs.
But my body language is observed, my demeanor is observed, it matters to people how I act and behave, and I didn’t really think about that until this incident. I was just living my own life, in my own head, and not framing myself as a leader.
What if, actually, that was true in other walks of life too? What if the people I am watching as visionaries and leaders in the online space, or in the orchestra, or in the world around me, what if all of those people are not intentionally being leaders, they are just leading by doing the things that they are doing?
What if, actually, I am leading every time I show up on social media, or on a podcast, or even in a class run by someone else, and I speak up to share the things I’m thinking about?
What if, actually, YOU are leading every time YOU show up? What if, just by being YOU, you are forging a path for others to follow?
How might you show up differently if you remembered that someone else is looking up to you, RIGHT NOW?