Before he takes the stage for November’s Design Museum Mornings, we sat down with Johannes Flecker of Sound Leadership to pick his brain on how songwriting can lead to a happier workplace. RSVP to Johannes’ presentation on November 4th today!
Songwriting and leadership are two areas that many wouldn’t often think to mesh — how did you develop the idea to use songwriting as a leadership tactic?
Songwriting is such a direct way to express challenges and to tell stories. I find in management consulting we have many challenges, but there is a total lack of expression of our thoughts and authenticity. And this is where I realized that music creation can do a great job to help express these challenges. Basically, you know, using this tool to really express ourselves better.
What is the best part of making music with a client?
Actually, it’s the performance at the end of a program after we’ve really worked together on a piece of music that we’ve created in our time. At the beginning there’s a lot of curiosity and anticipation. A lot of people say “Oh, we’ve never done this before,” and at the end of the event they really accomplish writing a full meaningful song and they are eager to perform it and have fun with it and really enjoy the outcome.
For you, what’s the most impactful thing about music creation?
That we have a language where we can really express our emotions and feelings in a way that goes directly to our hearts and touches the hearts of others in a direct way. I think this is such a powerful tool that we have. We have so many instruments in our hands to express how we feel. I feel that it’s a great tool — the language is really something that goes directly to the heart. Purely saying something is very impactful, but when you add music to lyrics it becomes so much more impactful — you are able to say something that can’t be said with just spoken word.
Musicality doesn’t come naturally to everyone, so how do you encourage people to surpass their insecurities in order to get the most out of the process?
What we do is, the management will come out, and then we really break it down into smaller steps. We aim to structure it so that people and audiences who are not musically trained can really immerse themselves and still feel comfortable and confident. So this is why we have a step by step approach. When we create songs, we do not really start with “okay, lets write a melody.” We start with something that everyone can start with like writing the title or coming up with a song idea. And, funny enough, once we move on in the process, people are really ready to write the music part. We just push people out of their comfort zone until they are ready to finish the whole musical piece together — and obviously we help too.
What is your favorite band/musician?
From current singer-songwriters, I like Bruno Mars a lot. He’s a great songwriter. I love the way his songs are about the people. I also like Jamiroquai a lot — they are great influences for me. And I am a huge fan of classical music, so Bach is my main musical hero.