What’s the Big Idea?

Dr. Matthew Arau • July 2023Leadership Tips • July 16, 2023

July is here and with the start of the school year just around the corner this is the perfect time to prepare student leaders for the road ahead. Before you dive straight into goal setting, responsibilities, and action steps with students, put on the brakes for a moment to ask, “What’s the BIG IDEA?” What are we truly about? What is our purpose? What values and mindset guide our decision making? 

Become clear on the big idea and then everything that follows will flow naturally and in congruence with the mission of your music or theater program. The mistake many of us make is we are in a hurry to dive right in and “get to work,” and we skip the all-important first step of asking why?

Here are five leadership big ideas for elevating the quality and effectiveness of your student leaders this year.

Leaders see unlimited potential in those they lead and strive to bring out the best in others.

Leaders provide support and guidance for team members to be successful.

Leaders have high expectations and hold themselves and team members to a high standard.

Leaders lead by example.

Leadership is about serving, giving, mentoring, and role-modeling rather than about being in charge and receiving the glory.

Keep returning to the big idea after the initial reflection time and conversation because the big idea drives everything else. It turns out that the big idea is really a big deal!

Dr. Matthew Arau, author of Upbeat! Mindset, Mindfulness, and Leadership in Music Education and Beyond and founder of Upbeat Global, is an associate professor of music and the chair of the music education department and symphonic band conductor at the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music in Appleton, Wisconsin and the Leadership Editor for GIA Publications.


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