Interview: How Music Inspires Change

Ben recently gave an interview with Executive Speakers Bureau who we work with in the United States.

ESB wanted to find out more about what we do and why, and how it can have such a profound impact on the companies and individuals we work with. Here are some of the highlights:

What is your unique philosophy when it comes to inspiring executives?

My philosophy is to inspire change in people through the power of music. We use music as a practical approach, a metaphor and an enabler for this.

What kind of response do you normally receive?

When we explain to people we expect them to sing, in my experience, 20% of participants want to run out the room, 20% are ready to start, and the remaining 60% are sitting on the fence. This is a mindset issue and this ratio is reflective of the mindsets you see in the people of many companies when set with a challenging goal or objective.

Great leaders share their authentic selves with those they lead and this is also a scary thing to do.

As we take them through the songwriting process, however, people find it gives them a chance to really share their true voice. They end up really enjoying and surprising themselves and producing a powerful performance. The beautiful thing about singing is that at its essence it is a very personal thing – you are sharing something deep of yourself – your heart – which is why it is hard to sing in public.

Great leaders share their authentic selves with those they lead and this is also a scary thing to do. As participants step up, challenge their mindset and push through that fear, it becomes a great parallel for their work life – they realise they can change their mindsets and step up in what the company is requiring of them. In the end, on average, over 95% have jumped in wholeheartedly and just go for it. I love seeing that transition. It helps people reflect on what mindsets will serve them well when facing challenges in work.

What are some of the tools and messages you use throughout that transformation?

We use music in numerous ways with executives – from immersing them inside world class orchestras such as the Royal Philharmonic and learning how high performing teams achieve consistent brilliance, to the role of leaders/orchestral conductors in leading teams, to smaller scale workshops where we compose music with professional musicians to learn how they manage themselves and others through ambiguity.

How does this translate into the corporate environment?

A major IT company were looking for their leaders to become more disruptive; we engineered some of their team to disrupt my Keynote with a flash mob choir singing about what they needed to do as an organisation – it was a dynamic example of the courage it takes to lead and make change in fast paced industries.

Or a retail bank, having been bailed out by the State in the financial crisis, needed to capture some if its core identity and focus. Music became an enabler for them to release the pent-up emotions of several years, and communicate in an innovative and powerful way what was really going for them – both positive and negative. It became a catalyst for change for that organisation – allowing them to move back into private ownership down the line.

Hungry to be challenged in a new way

I work with some of the world’s leading companies and organisations, and what I’ve found is they are hungry to be challenged in a new way. So much of the corporate world involves rational thinking. Music brings a different twist: emotional and creative inspiration. When you apply this to areas such as engineering, banking, retail etc., it can take your outlook to a whole new level.

Everyone can enjoy participating in the musical process and come away with something meaningful and significant from it

My clients love what we do, and that ties into my ultimate philosophy: everyone can enjoy participating in the musical process and come away with something meaningful and significant from it. It ultimately isn’t about the music – it is about every person being inspired to be the leader or person or to simply do his or her job to the fullest without reservations. At the end of the day, that’s what it is all about.

Ben brings both his musical and professional experience to the table when facilitating events across the globe. As a former leader in Barclays with over 20 years of commercial leadership experience, Hines is also an avid orchestral French horn player. In 2009, he founded “Moving Performance” which brings together his love of both music and business to help motivate professionals in a new way.