Test - Are their Eyes Shining?

Colleagues in my learning set recommended I watch Benjamin Zander’s TED talk. Its almost seven million previous views testify to how infectious and inspiring you might find this, and at the end Zander offers us a simple and surprising test we can all use to find out our impact as leaders.

My colleague Annika watching this told us how she remembered when Benjamin Zander came to her company conference and offered a very simple and motivating way to release the happy potential in his students. It went like this…

On their first day the students were all anxious, wondering if they were good enough, or better than the person next to them, and Zander told them that in one year’s time they would all get an ‘A’ grade. Then he asked them by the next week to write him a letter explaining why they got that ‘A’, for example “Mr Zander I got an A grade because I took risks…etc”.

Once his students had articulated why they would be so good, they became it: they turned up to lectures, practised, took risks etc. But a Korean student could not imagine getting an ‘A’ because he had previously been bottom of the class, until he thought about it for a while and decided he preferred the feeling of being the A grade student and so that is what he would be!

Benjamin Zander invites us to be leaders who, like the conductor of an orchestra, awaken possibility in other people. To find out more about the surprising test of our impact have a look at the video: Zander will describe it better than I could.