The two battles rage on: Manager versus Leader. Up until now, I wonder if I hshirked my duty to inspire. In fact, my personal motto was “I’m not here to inspire you, I am here to educate you.” My feeling was that music is such a part of my existence and an essential core of my being, how can I possibly create that same feeling within you? I can teach a student about the tools of music creation. I can create amazing opportunities for a student to explore their talents. However, my thinking was the implementation of these skills and the motivation to desire perfection and self-satisfaction was ultimately up to the individual student. That’s a manager’s way of thinking.
I relish my position in front of the class. I thoroughly enjoy sharing information, dissecting the nuanced and watching for “light bulb” moments over my student’s heads. But am I a leader? If I have learned nothing else this quarter is that a leader do not manipulate, desire capitulation or subjugation. Leaders present an enlightened path. Leaders inspire others; even by those that may not want to be inspired. And lord knows students cannot be bothered to be inspired.
Despite the numerous theories we have read about, leadership qualities are elusive. There is no gene, no set of circumstance that create leaders. Just as no one is born a football player, no one is born a leader. Athletes, poker players, chefs and mechanics can practice their craft over and over. They repeat actions until mastered, place themselves in scenarios to determine outcomes and learn from mistakes. But leadership is too nuanced, too shaped by external factors and frankly, so infrequent an opportunity, that “leading” is rarely practiced. Obviously, this is a mistake. Proper leadership training is not just about leading others. It provides a personal path of development and will help shape and create the future
It could be argued that leaders are born and proper leaders will arise to an occasion. When given the opportunity, there are those who are not afraid to lead. They step forward and take on the responsibility to one of four outcomes. 1) The leadership succeeds and continues leading. 2) The leadership fails but a second chance is granted. 3) With neither gains nor losses, the status quo is maintained 4) The leadership fails and a replacement leader is found. With this minimal setup, three out of four times the leader maintains their position. So it would seem we all would have ample time to practice leadership. But that is simply not the case. There is simply not the opportunity for everyone to take a turn at leading.
But let’s say a person does succeed in becoming a leader. What training has prepared us? A football player practices…often twice a day. Poker players calculate the odds and let statistics remove the emotion from the situation. Chefs experiment with ingredients, attempting never-before-tasted combinations before unleashing their concoctions on the public. Mechanics tinker and twist until problems are solved. But leaders? There is no time to practice. We expect leaders to create great things from the word “go.”
Ultimately, how does this knowledge affect me in an educational setting? Does my updated scorecard accurately reflect the necessary qualifications to lead in the classroom? How is my effectiveness as a leader ultimately measured? That remains to be seen.
In hindsight, I do not think my ability to lead was totally missing. Reflecting on my interactions, my constructive criticisms and the vision I have for the music program, there are plenty of instances that demonstrate leadership. My email signature contains a call to action for my students, “Don’t make it for me, make it for yourself. Create.” I challenge them weekly to achieve their best. I carefully outline a path to success. Self-scoring via my Leadership Scorecard, I think I give myself a lot of fours, with a few threes. However, there are also a few twos and ones.
Here are the areas in which I need development and assistance.
1) Actively listening – I am an interrupter. I am guilty of just waiting until the other person is finished before unleashing my thoughts and not truly listening to what that person has to say. I know this. To me, this is my greatest need for growth. How does one practice? I have already started by taking a Yoga class. An hour and a half where I do not talk. I breathe. I listen. But I do not speak. For me, silence is extremely hard.
2) Communicate expectations clearly – This is an area on which I have worked a great deal. I find myself usually in one of two scenarios. A) I outline my expectations very clearly. This might include step-by-step instructions, handing out the grading rubric or walking students through the process. Or possibly I include all three. And yet I get frustrated when students are capable of completing the task as requested. This is managerial thinking – the desire for following orders.
The counter argument in wanting students to follow the set order is that the steps for success are neatly mapped out. Accomplishing the tasks in orders is necessary to move the skill set forward. For instance, most musicians do not leap in to playing jazz music. Hours of practice and immersion give great musicians the skills necessary to throw out the rules. Learn the rules, then break them.
The second scenario is that I leave parts of the equation hidden. Students may feel I am not giving them all of the information. And they would be correct. Stumbling around, making mistakes and being forced in to a new situation are all part of experiential learning. Those experiences can be truly educational.
Ultimately, there is no black and white answer that will satisfy me. Visionary, inspirational leadership and the managerial quest for order and evaluation of the learner are intertwined. The goal I have set for this coming school year is to inspire. This challenges my earlier mantra and old way thinking. I will look at my tasks and behavior as an instructor to find areas where I can interweave inspiration. I plan on seeking additional leadership training. I will seek out feedback from students and co-workers. By focusing on my leadership skills, I can marry my quest for meaning in my life and with my desire to succeed as an instructor and offer me an opportunity to move forward in a more focused direction.
In that my daily job as a music instructor is more to be a manager*, my role as Coordinating Instructor for the Hocking College School of Music HCSM will push the boundaries of my known role as a departmental leader.
1. I will have forward thinking vision of what I want the HCSM to be in one year, five year and ten years from now. Program outcomes, our program mission statement and a review of current status will tell us where the program is NOW, the key question is “Where do we want the program to go?”
2. I will be passionate in my pursuit of excellence.
3. Part of being a leader is constant evaluation of current talent pool. “Are the right people in the right jobs?”
a. If the answer is Yes, then I will fight for every right, privilege and accolade for those people.
b. If the answer is No, then avenues of modifying or updating teaching philosophy and behaviors will be explored to determine if this person can be “the right person.”
4. I will treat all faculty and students with respect and consideration. This is best demonstrated by following the Golden Rule.
5. I will be positive and encouraging when I see behavior that creates a positive atmosphere for our students, faculty and department. When I witness something potentially negative, I will carefully pause before speaking, ask for clarification and if necessary, determine the best course of action to amend the situation into a positive outcome.
6. Communication is essential to the effectiveness of our department. When I am communicating, I will be clear, respectful and mindful of the other person. When I am receiving feedback, I will listen attentively (not just wait until they’re done speaking), process what I have heard and assess the situation.
7. I will hold myself as an example as to how I want other faculty to act, create, educate and interact.
8. I will continue to seek innovation in delivering, administering and grading program outcomes.
9. I will become disciplined with my time.
10. I will have integrity
*Managers are concerned about how things get done, and they try to get people to perform better. Leaders are concerned with what things mean to people, and they try to get people to agree about the most important things to be done.
I've got this lovely MacBook Pro that's very capable. I'm running a decent Pro Tools session. Thus far, the only hiccup I had was attempting to run IK Multimedia's Amplitube simulator on a snare track. I'm guessing it's a pretty hefty resource hog. I made due but I do love that plug-in. Neither Eleven nor the SansAmp nor the other simulator I have installed has a spring reverb sound, or any effect for that matter. I'll take any extra effect, really. I also love that the delay has no numbers or settings - just a simple dial related to time - no mix, no milliseconds. But alas, I was forced to use something else.
Here's a screenshot of the session.
Notice the markers at the end. I was using those to tighten up the bass with the drums for the big ending. I didn't notice it when we tracked but the bass was not as locked into the drums as it could have been. So, I marked up the snares and moved key bass notes to land closer to the snare hits. I didn't try using Beat Detective as markers let me notes manually and I was OK with that.
The other issue I noticed today, specifically with my MacBook, is the few shortcuts that I can no longer use. I miss the tiny enter button that used be just to the right of the space bar. And I'm not the only one. Without that, making markers now requires two hands -0ne for Function, the other for Return. I'm also no able to use the key commands that are on the Numeric Pad. Hitting a period, typing in the number of a marker and hitting period again is a very quick way to dash around a session. Or in my case, put the playback head at the top of the song. We kept four takes, so I cannot hit Return to take me to the top of the song. Hitting Return takes me to the top of the session but the take we are using starts 14 minutes in to the session.
Mess of Freedom is pretty close to being done.
To do list:
Finish Live Sound syllabi
Quizzes for Live Sound
Finish other syllabi
Read grad school chapters
paint garage door
Urei 1178 - stereo 1176. Can be used dual mono or link for stereo. Separate input and output for each channel but same Attack, Release and Ratio. Sounds fricking amazing.
Urei 1176 Silver Face. Works flawlessly.
Urei 1176 ditto
Lexicon PCM70 - Amazing outboard reverb
Rane PQ5 - 5 band parametric EQ
Beyer M500 ribbon - re-ribboned with RCA ribbon element. Like butter
Neuman u87 - Yep, I'm going to sell this
Furman AR1215 line - Regulates power to gear only see 117 plus or minus 3 - no fluctuations.
I'll post pics and prices soon.
I find the creative process exciting, and embrace limitations.