Mixing music and neuroscience to make 'high end' leaders

While many people become leaders because they're good at one thing, that doesn't mean they're good at management

Mixing music and neuroscience to make 'high end' leaders

The pandemic fast-tracked a lot of mid-level management, throwing junior executives into senior roles. And while it often worked out okay, there’s not been much time spent by HR in upskilling these professionals.

“A lot of leaders become leaders because they’re good at something specific,” Andy Sharpe of SongDivision told HRD. “ Then they’re suddenly told to manage people. They don’t know how to create a cohesive team, or encourage engagement, or create an environment of belonging We’re here to teach the essential future leadership skills that computers and technology are not going to outdate.”

What makes the training module unique?

Leadership Track is a six-part program led by learning and development (L&D) specialists and uniquely, world-class musicians. The program takes the power of music and amalgamates it with neuroscience-based techniques developed by the projects partner, Synaptic Potential.

“The combination is like nothing you’ve ever seen before,” said Sharpe.

The philosophy

Evidence-based programs combined with world-class musicians, and a heavy dose of creativity, all mixed with the power of music that unites is the secret recipe behind the training program.

Read more: The importance of training leaders in mental health

Coming out of the pandemic, Sharpe and partner Amy Brann identified that a change in workforce attitude meant that there was need for leadership training in soft skills – a gap in the market the pair were happy to fill.

“There are so many parts to leadership, but we picked six pillars of leadership that we know are important to any sort of leadership anywhere around the world, and the pillars that we chose all work really well with music,” said Sharpe.

The process

The program is broken up into six modules each themed by one of the six pillars of leadership.

Take the first pillar, team cohesion for example – there are three ingredients:

  • Do you choose to trust your team?
  • Do you know the special skills that each of your team have?
  • What drives each person in your team?

Participants discuss each ingredient, then breakaway into groups and brainstorm them before returning to the group to write their ideas and conclusions as lyrics. At the end of the session a song is created in any genre the group agrees on.

Filling a gap

Sharpe said that leadership training he’d come across was content heavy and lacked engagement and most of all doesn’t have the inherent bonding element to it making it impenetrable and people tune out.

Read more: Why are female employees not getting the leadership training they want

“We want people to walk out of the session knowing each other a little bit better,” said Sharpe. They’ve seen a bit more of a human side of each other so when they’re having conversations and getting into the nitty gritty of work after this, there’s a bit more warmth and a bit more connection.”

What people say about the training

Richard Case, partner at Centreview Partners, recently completed the first session in Leadership Track.

“Our best work is done when we work together. As such, SongDivision’s Leadership Track underscored for us the importance of spending time on our team cohesion – which is critical to our success,” added Case. “As we are short on time, the program was thoughtfully curated to deliver the maximum impact in a way that was content-rich, engaging and, dare I say, fun!”

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