Good leaders are facilitators who help the group achieve it’s goals.  The goals of a singing group are probably, to sing -  to sing well and to entertain any audiences they might sing for.


There are two areas in which leadership is necessary: someone who helps us accomplish the task before us - the  Task Leader” and people who help smooth over relationship problems - the “Social Leader(s)”.  Social Leader(s) helps keep us together, and the Task Leader helps us solve our task problems.  These sometimes can be the same person but sometimes they are different people and sometimes these are shared by several people.  Sometimes the “Social Leader” does not hold an official position and takes on the tasks of his own initiative.  Still he or they are quite essential to the group.  Tensions between individuals usually arise and need to be smoothed over.  The person who can do this is quite valuable to the group.


Of course, Chorus Directors and Quartet Musical Leaders are not the only task leaders in a Chapter but also there are Chapter Officer who  can profit from some of the following ideas.


When decisions need to be made in a musical group, how do we make them?  What are the various leadership styles that those responsible can choose?  Since I believe leadership is often misunderstood, here are some thoughts I’ve gleaned.  I can attribute most of these ideas to ideas expressed by Os Guiness in an article entitled “Styles of Leadership” and published in “Christianity Today” in Nov. 1965.  I’ve used the ideas thru the years and hope you can too. 


There are 5 different styles of leadership, all of which have their merits depending on the situation.  Most are more geared to the Task Leader but some may be useful for Social Leaders also.

    The 5 styles are:

  1. 1.Authoritarian: The leader knows what he want and implements it. “Shape up or ship out!

  2. 2.Persuasive: The leader knows what he wants and works hard to convince others that that’s the way it should be, then he implements it.  “This is the way we should do it and here is why.”

  3. 3.Consulting: The leader tries to get a sense of what the group want and then he implements it.  “I think most will agree that this is what we should do.”

  4. 4.Democratic: The leader puts everything up for vote and the majority decision rules. “Let’s put it up for a vote.”

  5. 5.Laissez Faire (meaning: “leave alone”): The leader doesn’t make any decisions.  He lets the group do what they want. “Well, just do what you want.”


As you can infer, “Laissez Faire” doesn’t work well especially for the Task Leader in a musical group where choices of tempo, dynamics etc. have to be made and where a group needs to be organized to be at a specific place at a specific time.  In contrast, in certain situations where you have a well organized, highly motivated and competent group and where everyone knows what his job is, “Laissez Faire” may be an excellent choice - “Leave them alone”.  Related to “Laissez Faire”, and sometimes called leadership, is the concept of “modeling” or leading by example, a useful tool if done well but usually not strong enough for most Task Leader’s tasks.


The “Democratic” approach probably wastes a lot of time as many simple decisions can be easily decided without input.  Yet the only commonly recognized styles that most people tend to know are “Authoritarian” or “Democratic”.  To many who have been under an arbitrary boss, when they become a leader, it means to them, “Do it my way”.  That can be catastrophic as the Authoritarian style is only effective if the person is extremely knowledgeable and wise or in extremely dangerous situations - such as in a war battle.  The perfect ideal authoritarian leader would be God.  But notice that, in Jesus, He is not portrayed as authoritarian.


I find that in many situations, leaders put issues up for vote when the results are obvious, voting is unnecessary.  If there is a general feeling of good will in the group, frequently a simple request for agreement is all that is necessary.  However if there is tension in the group, another tactic may be required - but the real issue really is to work on the tension points.  Of course, when the sense of the group is unclear, a vote may be necessary.


Much more usable than the “Authoritarian” or the “Democratic” are the two in-between styles of “Persuasive” and “Consulting”.  If the leader is very knowledgeable and wise, the Persuasive approach is the best.  Hopefully that is the approach most chorus directors use most of the time, though at times they need to be Authoritarian such as in interpretation issues.  But usually it’s wise to make it clear why their choices are good.  This persuasive choice is especially important for the musical leader within a quartet where we aim for 100% unity.

When the leader is unsure, a more Consulting approach is best.  The leader can solicit ideas until he gets some consensus, then pronounce what he understands of the group feeling.  This is probably much more efficient than a democratic vote and gives better results.  It’s not uncommon that voting democratically is done prematurely when more effort needs to be put into developing consensus.  This tends to masks a more reasonable solution and though done in an attempt at efficiency, often leads to further problems down the road.

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