Month: September 2014

Where Does Greatness Come From? A CSO Story

Great piece on leadership, culture, and professionalism.

Dr. Gerald Stein

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Organizations have a culture even when they aren’t cultural. The ethic can be noble and good, bottom-line oriented, or a great many other things. But the question for me as a psychologist has been, how do they get that way?

Indeed, I’ve wondered how some of them become dedicated to a higher purpose, where the individuals believe that there is something more important than themselves at least some of the time. Well, I think I have the answer with respect to at least one such institution: the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO).

Not all orchestras behave well. The mid-20th century version of the New York Philharmonic was described by William R. Trotter in Priest of Music: The Life of Dimitri Mitropoulos, as having “an attitude comprising, in more or less equal parts, paranoia, economic insecurity, pride, touchiness, and tough-guy, chip-on-the-shoulder arrogance.” It took many years before conductors looked at an…

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