Lead Before You Lead

Dr. Matthew Arau • CommentaryFebruary 2023 • February 19, 2023

February and March are busy times with festivals and concerts, and it is also a time where students begin to look ahead to leadership auditions in the spring and summer. Leadership applications may include essays, an interview, letters of recommendation, a performance audition, teaching a peer, and possibly even a service project. While the actual application process matters a great deal, the lead-up in the months before carries significant weight. So how can a student interested in being a leader show they have what it takes to lead?

The answer is lead before you lead. You do not need a leadership title to demonstrate qualities of a leader. Be a role model musician and student and lead by example rather than leading with authority and telling others what to do. People follow and are influenced by what we do more so than what we say. 

Here are some quick tips for those wishing to model good leadership. They are also reminders to teachers because students will emulate what they see:

  • Be present
  • Be prepared
  • Be positive
  • Be encouraging
  • Be engaged
  • Be curious
  • Be compassionate
  • Be caring
  • Be helpful
  • Be appreciative
  • Be dedicated
  • Be welcoming
  • Be kind
  • Be supportive
  • Be grateful

Ideally, actions and words reflect values and principles. Leaders – if you want members of your ensemble to practice more, practice more. If you want students in your group to care more, care more. If you want to elevate the attitude of your peers, demonstrate a positive attitude. The only person we can truly change is ourselves. However, when we strive to reach for our own full potential, our influence grows, and we can make a positive impact on others. 

This winter, in preparation for leadership auditions, lead yourself and do everything you can to be a role model. In other words, lead before you lead.

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