Music-making at Henley Business School

A guest blog by Chris Tero, an Associate of Integration Training.  Chris tells us how he incorporates music-making with Leadership training.  Learn more Integration Training’s Leadership course.

Chris Tero is an arts-based trainer, who has worked in corporate learning and development for over 15 years, working with many organisations. He has been delivering music-making as part of the Leadership Development programme at Henley Business School since 1997. He also contributes to numerous other programmes at the school.

Team building drum circles offer delegates the chance to embody key learning points of the day in an informal and light-hearted way. Participants are invited to relax, to put the brains into ‘neutral’ and attend to the task at hand, which is first and foremost to have fun together! Part of their awareness is used to keep an eye on the ‘Big Picture’ and to absorb any potential learnings or insights.

As the session unfolds each individual is encouraged to learn and embody specific rhythms. Here they can monitor the quality of their attention (their ‘response-ability’) as it moves from their personal contribution to the collective intention, which is to co-create a highly textured and relatively complex piece of music. Despite (or because of) the playful nature of the session, the group relaxes quickly and rises to the challenge of learning some new skills together. The focus is very much process led. Participants are encouraged to track their feelings during the course of the session, using a combination of embodied presence and emotional intelligence. They are asked to consider two key fields as a backdrop to this process of listening and playing; attention (presence) and intention (emergence). Because of the nonverbal nature of this experience, (and the absence of pressure to deliver a result or product), it is possible to let go of (or at least suspend) negative emotions such as judgement, fear or cynicism; to simply enjoy playing together in the present moment.

A recent development at Henley is to incorporate the Theory U analytical model, as created by Otto Scharmer from MIT. This is discussed in the session prior to the drumming, which then provides an opportunity to embody this methodology (Practice U, so to speak!). The session usually ends with general feedback and Q&As. Typical brief for Henley Leadership Development session:

  • Demonstrate improved communication through more positive conversations
  • Build capability in structuring your thinking before communicating
  • Understand how to adapt your style to more effectively influence others
  • Have increased self knowledge and understanding of potential limitations / barriers to success of your  own leadership style
  • Achieve a unity of purpose to improve efficiency & effectiveness
  • Improve stakeholder influencing capability through increased self awareness / emotional intelligence
  • Be better able to manage cultural differences
  • Inspire and lead for greater team engagement
  • Be a role model as a proactive manager of change

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