Wis gives keynote conference address on “The Conductor as Servant-Leader”

Feb 26, 2016

Ramona Wis, North Central College Mimi Rolland Professor in the Fine Arts and professor of music, was the keynote speaker Feb. 18 at the regional conference of the American Choral Directors Association. She also presented two sessions on the same subject at the event held in Sioux Falls, S.D.

The theme for the music conference was The Conductor as Servant-Leader, which is the subject of her book, “The Conductor as Leader: Principles of Leadership Applied to Life on the Podium” (GIA Publications, Inc., 2007).

Wis’ work in servant leadership goes back two decades and has been featured in arenas both inside and outside the field of music and in multiple journals, such as China Europe International Business School. As part of her ongoing work, Wis developed and has taught North Central College’s LEV 301 Servant Leadership course and is regularly invited to speak and present on the topic at conferences, workshops and school in-service programs.

The connection between leadership and conducting is becoming the focus of many large corporations, says Wis, as businesses look to the metaphor of the conductor to explain the ways teams and organizations should function for maximum effectiveness. In the field of music, the role of the traditionally autocratic conductor is being redefined. Views of what leadership means are changing, and collaboration and the inverted pyramid, or upside-down hierarchy, are critical to high level of artistic success.

“While there are books that discuss leadership or include a section on leadership, there are few in my field that address it as specifically as my work does,” says Wis. “To my knowledge, none reference servant leadership as the approach to our work as conductors.”

Click here to view Wis’ faculty profile.