Sage Advice: Need a new leader? Think talent, practice, and balanced harmony

Recently our church choir director retired and a search was immediately undertaken for an interim as well as a full-time replacement. Within a few days, our outgoing director and pastor selected an interim director while a group comprised of choir members and parishioners were sent off to find the full-time replacement—all was well, or so it appeared.

By ·

Recently our church choir director retired and a search was immediately undertaken for an interim as well as a full-time replacement. Within a few days, our outgoing director and pastor selected an interim director while a group comprised of choir members and parishioners were sent off to find the full-time replacement—all was well, or so it appeared.

After the first couple of rehearsals and services, the difference between the outgoing director and the new interim director was apparent. Tempo and feeling were changed to songs we knew, and the difference between the new director’s accompaniment music and ours were not reconciled. All of this led, of course, to confusion within our choir and the congregation.

The old director had, over time, reverted to playing the piano, but become very adept at conducting the choir through a series of unique cues as he played. The new interim director turned out not to be a “director,” but a very nice person who could play the piano and help us learn our parts to the songs during rehearsals. During the church service, however, our choir was on its own as the pianist concentrated totally on playing the piano accompaniment.

However, how a song was practiced during rehearsal was not always how it was played during the service. Four measure introductions surprisingly became three, songs with four verses suddenly ended after two, and songs with three verses were repeated without any advance notice. The critical musical direction, precision, balance, and feeling had been lost, and the congregation joined the choir in the confusion.

In the meantime, the search committee, charged with finding the permanent replacement director, was listening to the music at different churches. Undoubtedly, and perhaps superficially, they were listening to the music selection, how the person sang or played, observing how the choir was conducted, and how it interacted with the director.

While these observations will be helpful in sorting out the candidates, the critical characteristics we’re looking for in a new choir director will ironically be the same as those needed for your new logistics leader. These include understanding the critical balance between technical talent, vision, and foresight; analysis and problem solving; judgment; leadership; and interpersonal skills.

As with all teams, the director must recognize that the role is not all about the skill that the leader possesses to play or sing, rather it’s about team performance and the need to achieve balance.

Choirs need a good mix of choral basses, tenors, altos, and sopranos to deliver a balanced sound. A choir director, like a logistics leader, needs to assess the artistic talent of the choir and the interests of
the congregation in order to select the appropriate program that not only satisfies the vision, but conveys the appropriate message and feeling—and can be artistically executed by everyone. Picking music that no one can sing or understand is alienating and will be short lived.

Executive selection committees must be cognizant of the big picture. They must avoid talented, self-centered individuals and focus on finding a person who understands that the position is not about them, but about the program, its mission, the team, and its ability to consistently deliver superior balanced performance with the appropriate feelings.

Recruiting teams in search of people to lead logistics and supply chain operations must avoid the temptation to hire a person who does not understand the fundamentals and interdependencies of its elements or the keys to leading and managing the internal team.

If the company is committed to promoting from within, then the best approach is to find a team player of talent and vision that enjoys the challenges of logistics. Then the challenge is to methodically nurture that person through warehousing, materials management, and transportation with a focus on team, process fundamentals, and relationship management before advancing that person to ultimately lead the supply chain.

No one likes the sound of a group that can’t sing in tune or a director who acts like a one-man band. Think talent, practice, and balanced harmony.

About the Author

John A. Gentle
John A. Gentle is president of John A. Gentle & Associates, LLC, a logistics consulting firm specializing in contract/relationship management and regulatory compliance for shippers, carriers, brokers, and distribution centers. A recipient of several industry awards, he has more than 35 years of experience in transportation and logistics management. He can be reached at [email protected]

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Article Topics

April 2012 · Transportation · All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
Case Study: LEAN Yields Big Results
Every day, companies across a wide range of industries use LEAN in their supply chains, warehouses and distribution centers, finance departments, and customer service centers, among other areas. LEAN practices improve safety, quality, and productivity by extracting cost and waste from all facets of an operation – from the procurement of raw materials to the shipment of finished goods.
Download Today!
From the October 2016 Issue
Over the past decade we’ve seen a major trend in regards to safety regulations for freight transport within the United States as well as for import and export shippers—that trend is the “international­ization” of rules and regulations.
European Logistics Update: Post-Brexit U.K. moving ahead, but in which direction?
Badcock Home Furniture &more: Out with paper, in with Cloud TMS
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
How API Technology Connects the Transportation Economy
Dynamic decision making is made possible through accurate, actionable data. When combined with progress in data science and the Internet of Things, technology companies that add value to direct-to-carrier APIs and combine them with high-power data analytics will create new concepts for the information economy.
Register Today!
Motor Carrier Regulations Update: Caught in a Trap
The fed is hitting truckers with a barrage of costly regulations in an era of scant profits....
25th Annual Masters of Logistics
Indecision revolving around three complex supply chain elements—transportation, technology and...

2016 Quest for Quality: Winners Take the Spotlight
Which carriers, third-party logistics providers and U.S. ports have crossed the service-excellence...
Regional ports concentrate on growth and connectivity
With the Panama Canal expansion complete, ocean cargo gateways in the Caribbean are investing to...