We are always a part of some group with a common purpose – a family, a community, or a team at work. As a flute player and as someone who appreciates beauty and excellence, I like to think of a team as a music band. It can be as small as a duo, or as big as an orchestra.

What can you learn from a music band as you play various roles in your companies, organizations, and teams?

Nothing happens in isolation

Even a solo guitar player at the corner is connected to people – his teachers or idols that inspired him to play, the long gone composers whose melodies he is bringing to life, and the people around who smile at him once in a while, take a picture of him, or stop by and throw a coin into his hat. Think of all the people who inspired you on your career journey, people who value your work today, as well as people who may look up to you. You are connected to others even if you spend most of your working days alone.

You can be a part of a big thing

People are afraid that if they collaborate, they’ll be forgotten, they’ll be just one of many. But just imagine for a while that you hear only one instrument at a time. Even after you hear each of them, you wouldn’t get the experience you get from hearing them all together. Think of what you could create with people around you if you put your experiences and diverse skills together.

Your team can make you shine

Soloists need the support of the rest of the orchestra. The whole ensemble creates a mood, prepares the audience, and only then gets quiet letting the soloist shine. And at the end of a solo, the whole orchestra takes over again, taking all the emotion to the next level. As a star performer, you need your team. And each team member can have their own moment to shine. And the more you know each other, the more you can let go and be creative.

It’s about quality, not about quantity

Less notes, slower tempo and softer take are way more impactful than a lot of sounds from all the instruments trying to be heard at the same time. Even if you are just adding a couple of notes to the whole mix, if they are well tuned and timed right, you are adding to the whole experience. Pick carefully when and how you contribute. How can you make the best impact?

Focus on your strengths

For the orchestra to be extraordinary, each player needs to be extraordinary. A great musician knows her instrument. She can not only play her part well, but can also make sure that she aligns with the other musicians. She needs to feel the flow of the whole group and she can only do that if doing her part comes natural and easy. Make sure you know what comes natural and easy for you, so that you can use it for the benefit of the team.

Understand your responsibilities

A conductor doesn’t play any instrument. But he knows who is supposed to do what at any given moment. He listens for the overall harmony and adjusts the individual contributions to serve the purpose of the group. He needs to envision the desired result and lead the team member to making his vision a reality. He needs to trust each player and they need to trust him. What’s your manager’s vision? How can you support your manager in making it a reality?

What can you do as a part of your team, your music band?

How can you make sure that people around will enjoy the music you create together?

Because when they do, they’ll stop by, they’ll pay attention, they’ll tell others, and perhaps they may even start dancing.


Henrieta Riesco is a founder of Intentional Career. She is all about meaningful conversation to empower professionals on their career journey. After experiences of being a teacher and a corporate trainer in Slovakia, a customer advocate and a training consultant for 10+ years at Microsoft, she is comfortable with calling herself a Career Coach. You can follow Henrieta via Twitter, or via her blog.