Tokonoma and the art of the focal point
Presentación Zen: Por fin! La versión en español ya está disponible

The art of control without controlling, doing without doing

Itay_ted As a leader — in business, education, or design — how much control do you need? How much can you give up? Is control even the right word? Is it possible to lead without leading? Here is a great TED talk that will get you thinking that has applications for leaders of all types. Former conductor Itay Talgam today runs workshops to help people develop a musician's sense of collaboration, and a conductor's sense of leadership. In this excellent talk at TED Oxford, Itay touches on the art of creating perfect harmony without saying a word by showing the unique styles of six great 20th-century conductors. I point to this presentation for the content, but the delivery and smooth use of video clips to illustrate his points is a good example of how to connect with an audience and get them to think differently.

Questions to consider
  • Can you lead with less control or a different kind of control?
  • Must "control" be a zero-sum game?
  • Is there joy in leading by helping other people tell their own stories?
  • Is leadership only about technique or is it more about meaning?
  • Are we using team members, employees, or students as instruments for our own ends or are they viewed as partners, where their development is a central consideration for us?
  • Is not leadership also about creating the processes, structure, and conditions that allow team members to perform autonomously? Can you still be "in control" and let people be/feel free? Can the structure create the conditions for that freedom?
The best line of the talk: Apparently when Strauss was 30, says Itay Talgam, he wrote the "10 commandments for conductors." My favorite commandment? "Never look at the trombones; it only encourages them." As someone who played trombone in the orchestra all through my school years, I greatly enjoyed that line.


Benjamin Zander on music and passion


Nick Smith

Excellent. Zander's was among my all-time favorite TED talks, but Itay's is now right up there. Hearing both of their thoughts on leadership and motivation, it's a wonder we think of business as so far removed from music and the arts.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)