Leadership Ensemble
Lessons in Collaborative Management from the World's Only Conductorless Orchestra
by Harvey Seifter and Peter Economy

A dynamic new model for effective management, from an organization known around the world for its innovative structure.

The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra has earned rave reviews as one of the premier musical ensembles in the world. Recently, it has also attracted the attention and admiration of the corporate world. As the only major orchestra that rehearses, performs, and records without a conductor, Orpheus is a shining example of a new management style based on collaborative leadership.

Leadership Ensemble shows business leaders in any industry how to re-create the successful "Orpheus Process" in their own companies by dismantling top-heavy hierarchies; developing flexible, responsive strategies and decision-making procedures; and unleashing employee creativity, responsibility, and productivity. Based on three decades of performing experience and more than five years' partnership with corporations such as Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Orpheus has identified and refined eight core principles, along with practical steps for putting the principles into practice and potential traps and landmines:

  • Put Power in the Hands of the People Doing the Work discusses how to give employees, at all levels of a company, decision-making skills and authority, with examples from J. P. Morgan Chase.
  • Encourage Individual Responsibility for Product and Quality reviews ways to improve performance as well as accountability, including insights from Morgan Stanley Dean Witter.
  • Create Clarity of Roles discusses how to improve interaction and collaboration through job descriptions and responsibilities, with examples from Ritz-Carlton.
  • Share and Rotate Leadership demonstrates how to take advantage of all employees' expertise and creativity, including a look at W. L. Gore's workplace.
  • Foster Horizontal Teamwork reviews how to build effective, cross-departmental problem-solving work groups, including practices at the San Diego Zoo and Russell Reynolds Associates.
  • Learn to Listen, Learn to Talk provides guidelines for effective communication in a "flat" organization, with examples from Intel.
  • Seek Consensus demonstrates structures for inspiring employees to reach shared goals, including a review of Sturman Industries.
  • Dedicate Passionately to Your Mission offers insight into building your corporate strategies around both employees' motivations and the bottom line, with examples from Stonyfield Farm.

Spiced with anecdotes and lessons from Orpheus's day-to-day business and long-term strategies, as well as practical steps and potential obstacles drawn from the corporate world, Leadership Ensemble is an entertaining, eminently practical guide to implementing changes that are essential to survival in today's fast-paced business environment.


The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, founded in 1972, is based at New York's renowned Carnegie Hall, has been honored with four Grammy awards, and is frequently profiled by the arts and business media.

Harvey Seifter, a classically trained musician, is the executive director of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and has successfully managed a number of performing arts organizations in both New York and San Francisco. He lives in New York City.

Peter Economy is an associate editor for Leader to Leader magazine and the coauthor of At the Helm: Business Lessons for Navigating Rough Waters. He lives in California.

J. Richard Hackman is the Cahners-Rabb Professor of Social and Organizational Psychology at Harvard University and the author of Leading Teams.

Leadership Ensemble

Leadership Ensemble
Lessons in Collaborative Management from the World's Only Conductorless Orchestra
by Harvey Seifter and Peter Economy
Published by Times Books
October 2001

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