Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Leadership Lessons from Yo-Yo Ma

Guest blog post from Kayte Connelly, Best Principled Solutions

As an avid supporter of Advocacy for the Arts, Best Principled Solutions has been a National Co-Sponsor for the march on Washington for all things Arts in the spring. We’ve been attending since the 1990’s; this year also serving on the Legislative Planning Committee.

One of the benefits of being a National Co-sponsor, is the ability to participate in the Nancy Hanks Lecture Series at the JFK Center and the invitation to attend Executive Office and West Wing briefings from the various cabinet officials on the integration and appreciation of the arts in developing cognitive skills, providing remedial benefits for Alzheimer’s and other diseases; offering healing to American Wounded Veterans from the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars suffering with physical challenges and post-traumatic stress disorder and much, much more.

I’ve witnessed the likes of Daniel Pink, Wynton Marsalis, and Alec Baldwin, in recent years, and this year, it was the wonderful Yo-Yo Ma.

You never know what to expect during the “performance.” There is sometimes a youth orchestra integrated – as there was last year, with Ben Folds and the Washington Youth Jazz Ensemble. There can be a narrated piece with demonstrations of timelines of the particular artist as there was with Wynton Marsalis.

Joining Yo-Yo, a favorite of the White House since the 1950’s, for the performance portions of the lecture were: Matt Sorum, drummer for Gun’s and Roses and Velvet Revolver, bagpiper and pianist Cristina Pato, jooker Lil' Buck, MusiCorps wounded warriors: Specialist Nathan Kalwicki, Lance Corporal Josh Cawthorn, Sergeant Rex Tharp, Corporal Marcus Dandrea, Lance Corporal Tim Donley, teaching artist Greg Loman and founder Arthur Bloom.

A full video of individual or complete performances can be found here. We can promise you that there was not a dry eye in the audience when MusicCorps took the stage. Never has there been a more dedicated command of music than that was delivered on that crisp April evening.

There were so many memorable moments both from the Lecture and from the compelling speeches the following morning. I wanted to capture some of highlights of Yo-Yo Ma’s speech to share with those interested in moving Leadership Forward in the Lehigh Valley.

With permission, Yo-Yo began quite eloquently. “One of the topics I’ve been reading about recently is what kind of work force we need in the 21st century. What will our graduates need in order to succeed?
The experts say we need four qualities in our students and in our work force. They need to be:

Collaborative,
Flexible,
Imaginative, and
Innovative.

According to the 2012 IBM Global CEP Study, ‘Collaboration is the number ONE trait CEO’s are seeking in their employees, with 75 percent of CEOs calling it critical.’ Leading Through Connections. The Council on Competitiveness says, ‘Those who learn to innovate will prosper in a global economy.’ (van Opstal,’ Thrive, The Skills Imperative’, 22). The Center for Public Education calls out ‘creativity and intellectual flexibility’ among other competencies. (Jerald, ‘Defining a 21st Century Education: At a Glance,’ Center for Public Education.)

We know that our present educational system encourages knowledge acquisition and critical thinking. But what about these other qualities? How do we develop those other qualities?
Let’s take my favorite example of creativity from science. In ecology where two eco-systems meet, such as the forest and the Savannah, the point of intersection is the site of ‘edge effect.’ In that transition zone, because of the influence the two ecological communities have on each other, you find the greatest diversity of life, as well as the greatest number of new life forms.

So that’s one way nature is creative!
The edge effect is something that has also had an impact on my life….” Yo-Yo continues.
So, the question I pose to you today is how are your companies being:

Collaborative,
Flexible,
Imaginative, and
Innovative?
How are you taking YOUR company to the edge?

The role of the Greater Lehigh Valley Leadership Consortium is to stay abreast of current leadership trends and best practices. To discover more about how your company might integrate practical applications, go to www.glvlc.com .

©2013 Kayte Connelly CCT. All rights reserved. Kayte Connelly, Best Principled Solutions LLC, is an award winning author, leadership coach and organizational development consultant specializing in personal, professional and community leadership. She facilitates retreats and conversations with dissimilar parties and helps individuals and organizations identify and eliminate what stands between themselves and their goals. The Greater Lehigh Valley Consortium is a partnership established with leadership providers throughout the Lehigh Valley. Steadfast and earnest, we are a think-tank of like-minded individuals. We provide enriched customized services that are designed to create and sustain generations of leaders for our community based on research and global development. Please “like” us at www.facebook.com/GLVLC or www.facebook.com/BestPrincipledSolutions Call 484.769.2327 kayte@bestprincipledsolutions.com for more information on how your company could become more collaborative, flexible, imaginative, innovative and/or discover your “edge.” Our next “Becoming Better Leaders” program is September 18, 2013.

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