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‘Live’ music leadership lessons

March 5, 2013

By Sarah Le Roy

I recently had the privilege of watching an extreme team—the Punch Brothers, play live. Most of you probably haven’t heard of this bluegrass quintet, so you’ll just have to trust me—they’re really good and they defy categorization. The leader of the band, Chris Thiele, recently won a Grammy for his recordings with cellist Yo Yo Ma—the Goat Rodeo Sessions. You’re probably thinking, “Nice, and probably worth a listen but, what do the Punch Brothers have to do with teams?”

So, as I let the music carry me away, I realized that watching the members of this talented quintet perform together was like watching a microcosm of positive team dynamics in action: They literally played with one another. Clearly, after a year on the road, they have their own inside jokes. Thiele allowed and encouraged each member to have the spotlight at various points throughout the evening—literally and figuratively. Each member is a master of their instrument and they share an extraordinarily high standard for their individual and collective performance. And, of course, the leader led and soloed himself playing Bach on his mandolin to an awed, silent audience. This is a group that plays and practices so frequently together that their live sound is so good it’s virtually indistinguishable from their recordings.

So what does this say about teamwork? Truly awe inspiring, jaw droppingly successful teams are the product of extremes–hard work, high standards, equivalent levels of technical competence, loads of respect and appreciation for one another, equal drive to achieve the group mission, and the grit and stamina to believe that they can accomplish their mutual goal.

Are you a part of an ‘extreme team’? If so, we’d love to hear from you. What makes your team different from the rest?


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