It Is Your Leadership Responsibility to Pause: Fermata

Life with its daily responsibilities can be a constant “tug of war,” seemingly pulling and pushing us toward the next task. But as leaders, we tend to add even more to the game. At times, we just can't keep still. We tend to look for more work, more responsibilities and more problems to solve. That's exactly what a leader should do, Right? A leader should never be sitting down...always out-front, encouraging the team, sharing the vision, helping the entire organization move forward. Right?YES. All of this is true. But a pause can be good to reflect (get back on track) and reduce the damage done to others .....not to mention Burn-Out (damage done to yourself).In music, a fermata is a symbol placed over a note or rest telling the player to hold longer than its normal duration. The notation indicates a “pause.”

In business, there is a concept called the Triple Constraints of Management. This management concept based on the foundation of “control”(Time, Cost & Quality). Whichever one takes precedence the others will suffer. Notice that this management concept did not include people. Management is NOT the same as Leadership. (For example, let's take the neighborhood burger joint with its increased, high focus placed on Time. In this example, the quality and the costs of the ingredients will naturally decrease and suffer.) A few months ago, a few friends gathered in Downtown Atlanta for a birthday dinner. As we watched the band play, our birthday friend was surprised by an impomptu invitation to join in for a song. This was not karaoke. This was a performance that I will never forget. I watched her take her time, making up words on the spot...with ease. This was beyond breath-taking. What was even more amazing to watch, was her ability to be free and involve everyone else.

My dear friend, Lola Troy, Atlanta local Singer-Songwriter was that birthday girl that captivated us as she took full advantage of the pause. That very night in itself was a “fermata” for her. A single mother, raising a daughter, studying for a new employment position, while recording an album can be quite overwhelming. Just a dinner a friends....But No. Now the band leader surprises her with an invitation to sing.

The Triple Constraint concept has been a proven effective strategy for years in management. But it does not apply to leadership in its current diagram. But with a “fermata,” the entire model can shift from simple management to extraordinary Leadership.I watched that night and months to follow how Lola used a musical technique to place a new spin on the Triple Constraint Model with the “fermata.”

As she purposefully paused:

  1. Time became a moment for her to reflect and gather her thoughts, while at the same moment addressing her own abilities and weaknesses. She was honest with herself about what she could and could not musically execute.

  2. Cost was the factor, as she valued to reduce any negative effect that she could have on the audience. Lola was watching the crowd to engage everyone dining that evening.-

  3. The Quality of the evening seemed to rise even higher and any of our expectations.While management focuses on the data, product or services (the WHAT).

Leadership focuses on the person. If we let ourselves become so busy, preoccupied with all of our honorable tasks; we will neglect our team, families, organizations and ourselves. Great Leaders respect the “fermata,” for the pause reminds us of the WHY!

Creative Coaching through Music: “Music can change the world because it can change people” - Bono

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