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The mission of the ACDA is to inspire excellence in choral music through education, performance, composition, and advocacy.

Truths* about Choral Leadership

Truth #1 As Conductor, You Make the Difference. Before you lead you have to believe you can have a positive impact on others. When you believe you can make a difference, you position yourself to hear the call to lead. 

Truth #2 Integrity is the Podium on which you Stand. If people don’t believe in you, they won’t willingly follow you. You must do what you say you are going to do. This means being so clear about your beliefs that you can live them every day. 

Truth #3 It is the Why that Motivates the Work. You need to know why you do what you do, because you can only fully commit to the organization or cause when there is a good fit between what you value and what the organization values. This is true too, for the people you lead. 

Truth #4 Your Focus on the End Goal is what makes you a Leader. You have to be forward looking. Just look at your choir--they are looking at the present--YOU are looking at the future. This is the quality that most differentiates leaders from individual contributors. You need to spend time reflecting on the future. It is the vision that resonates with others, inspiring and energizing.

Truth #5 You are Not doing this Alone. Leadership is a team sport, and you need to engage others in the cause. You need to enable others to be even better than they already are. Make that the goal of every rehearsal, and make better mean something better than only correct pitches and rhythms.

Truth #6 The Glue for your work is Trust. To enlist others, you need trust. Build mutual trust; you must trust others too. 

Truth #7 Problems Define you as a Leader. Great achievements don’t happen when you keep things the same. Change invariably involves challenge, and challenge tests you. It introduces you to yourself. It brings you face-to-face with your level of commitment, your grittiness, and your values. It reveals your mind
set about change. 

Truth #8 There is a Reason that you as conductor are the one standing in front, and easy to identify by the audience. You have to go first as a leader. That’s what it takes to get others to follow your lead. 

Truth #9 The Maestro is also the Allievo. Learning is the master skill of leadership. Leaders are constant improvement fanatics. The teacher (maestro) is also the never-ending student (allievo).

Truth #10 Conducting is your passion. Leaders love what they’re doing and those they lead. Leaders make others feel great about themselves and are gracious in showing their appreciation to others.
*Adapted from the research of Kouzes and Posner as outlined in their book The Truth About Leaderhip.
on August 17, 2010 8:50am
Dear Tim,
As usual, you hit the nail on the head.  These truths are, I'm sure, things many of us believe but to have them distilled and pointed out is helpful in our artistic journeys.  It is something to ponder on this beautiful Tuesday in August, over coffee.
Truths #2, #3, #4, #7 #10 are very important to me as someone who founded an ensemble. 
I always tell my singers I put my money where my mouth is---if I say I'm going to do something, I do it or try to, and if I say I will be there, I will.
I do understand what motivates me and I why I do things but I'm willing to bet, many do not. And it's been a process to come to have clarity about the whys.
Having a vision for the future, and being in the present but also the future and HOW TO GET THERE is something I struggle with at times.  It is important to know where you are going! I dream big but have little dreams that are achievable in the near future.
As  a Midwestern gal, grittiness is my middle name (and you thought it was Louise!).  You can tell a lot about a person--and how they function as a leader--about how they handle adversity.  This is where creativity and determination come in.
I love conducting and planning.  I write thank you notes to every singer after every concert because I know I couldn't do it without them. And I genuinely like my singers.  Mama was raised by my Oklahoma born Granny---manners count--and she raised me to always, always thank people.  
Thank you for writing this as many of us begin our programs in a few weeks. It is always good to understand how leadership--and not just waving our arms--fits in to our profession. I will have to think about the other Truths during this beautiful summer day.