symphonies

Advice from a Maestro

March 29, 2011: 5:00 AM ET

Looking for new ways to manage your troops? Some tips from New York Philharmonic conductor Alan Gilbert.

Gilbert conducting, holding a penlight, which creates the effect in this photo.

It's not easy to find a management book that has anything approaching a fresh idea. Maybe that's why people looking to become change agents are turning to unusual sources for their leadership fix. Navy SEALS, chefs, and, of course, pro sports coaches have all weighed in with popular advice books.

Even musical maestros are getting in on the act. Ben Zander, the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic, has devoted followers of his book, The Art of Possibility. And conductor Roger Nierenberg in his book, Maestro: A Surprising Story About Leading by Listening, "teaches executives how to turn a company into a euphonious symphony of work," says Publisher's Weekly.

Another conductor with a good management story to tell is Alan Gilbert, the music director of the New York Philharmonic. Not only does he manage a large, creative crew in a pressure-cooker market, but he also had to follow, at a relatively young age, in the footsteps of legends like Leonard Bernstein and Gustav Mahler. The 44-year-old Gilbert's appointment in 2007 raised a few eyebrows, partly because his parents were career violinists with the orchestra. (Gilbert's mother, Yoko Takebe, continues to play under him.) Now in his second season with the philharmonic, Gilbert has won over critics, thanks in some measure to his skillful management of the 106 musicians who play for him. How does he do it? More

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