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It’s no secret that companies have to constantly reinvent themselves to stay relevant in our fast-moving economy, so it should be not surprising that traditional leadership and management models are also becoming obsolete in our evolving society. The authoritarian boss archetype, the one that is feared by all and befriended by none is an idea of the past; instead, successful modern leaders have proven to value collaboration, promote diversity and empower the people in their teams.

There is extensive material that suggests that leadership can take cues from jazz – yes, the musical genre – to become a better science. Harvard Business Review wrote an article entitled “What Leaders Can Learn from Jazz”. Forbes, similarly, published an article called “Leadership Lessons From The Geniuses of Jazz”. In Brazil, Strategy consultant Ricardo Neves and musical conductor Marcelo Torres paired up and created a class that teaches leadership using Jazz as an innovation strategy. Around the world, books, blogs, articles and material have been written based on this concept.

Jazz Music & Leadership

All this literature suggests that great contemporary leadership should be inspired by a jazz band when trying to navigate through complexities and adversities in business. After all, jazz englobes all elements of real leadership – every musician has its turn to do a solo, every instrument is clearly heard at different stages, the band has to be able to improvise and collaborate to create amazing sounding music.

We listed here all the jazzy characteristics a leader should aim to have:

Systemic Thinking

Instead of focusing on solving one problem at a time, a jazzy leader should understand the entire scenario before making drastic changes to the ecosystem.

Generate Social Intelligence

A true jazzy leader has the ability to deeply empathise with people and use their team’s collective strength as a driving force for constant innovation.


Observing, listening and truly perceiving their surroundings and people who work with them gives the jazzy leader an inbuilt knowledge that will help in decision making on the spot.

Working With Risk

Jazzy leaders don’t fear ambiguity and feel comfortable and prepared to deal with moments of crisis, which will always exist.

Agent of Change

A leader should always contest the status quo in order to find new work paradigms and inspire their team to do the same. They lead, and they allow to be led.


According to Simon Sinek, in his Ted Talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action”, the biggest difference between a great and an ordinary leader is that a great leader helps people see a purpose in the job they are doing.

*This article was translated, adapted and edited by Rani Ghazzaoui Luke. Header’s photo credit: Ana Jaks/Culture Trip

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