Unit 9: Getting Along With Others

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In this unit, we will talk about how to deal with the different types of people you might encounter as a part of your leadership role. Some of the difficulties may even happen between leaders. We can’t all be best friends but we can all “get along”!

The ability to get along with others is an important prerequisite for leadership and for life. This is not to say that all leaders have to be gregarious and outgoing people, who enjoy being in the spotlight, but that they are comfortable enough in their role to be successful in it. History is full of many powerful and influential leaders who were introverts; shying away from the attention that came with their position. For some people, the spotlight of leadership is easier to deal with than others. You should also keep in mind that some jobs require fewer people skills and less interaction than others. That is not to say that you can lead through email, but it is important to know if your responsibilities as a leader match your persona.

For example, jobs such as music librarian or group webmaster require less student interaction than those of drum major, concertmaster, or section leader. While managing both tasks and relationships are keys to being an effective leader, some jobs require less managing than others. In all of my years teaching music, I never heard a uniform talk back, or sheet music makes a smart remark, so if managing people and their conflicts make you uncomfortable, keep that in mind when choosing to serve.

Yes, people skills are an important part of being an effective leader. After all, it is people that you are leading (yes, drummers count as people). This does not mean that each and every student in your charge must be your best friend, but that your relationship does not impede your ability to effectively lead. If the communication highway is shut down, not only will you not get to where you need to go, but no one else will either.

As a part of your leadership role, you will come into contact with people who are difficult to deal with. Some people thrive on conflict and are perfectly content creating situations that might make others uncomfortable. Whether this is done with intent or out of ignorance, the fact remains the same, you will have to deal with these people to be an effective leader. As unreasonable as it may seem, some people thrive on trauma and drama.

Beyond your relationships with your peers, there is the personal dynamic between the director and the student to be considered as well. The same understanding of conflict resolution applies here and is ever more important. If you and your director are unable to function as a team and able to see eye to eye on what is best for the group, then regardless of your ability to get along with your peers, you are doomed to fail as a leader. This director/student relationship, more than any other, is based on trust. Your director has placed a group of young people in your trust and for you to respond in any manner that jeopardizes that trust should cause everyone to examine your readiness to effectively lead, and be led. A student leader with a good relationship with his/her peers and a bad relationship with his/her director is like a car with a big engine and no brakes, destined for a crash.

The questions below are food for thought prior to beginning the chapter.

Would you say that you are a flexible person? Are you able to easily roll with the punches?

What are your “hot-button” issues with which you lack flexibility? (time, disrespect, poor work ethic, etc.)

Are you a loyal person?

LEADERSHIP TIP: Power struggles just result in a loss of power for both people struggling. The only way to keep what you have is to maintain control of it, starting with respect! If you lose control, you lose respect.

Be sure to download the attachment prior to starting.

Just for fun, share your worst conflict story in the discussion below.

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