Great Leadership by the Beat of a Drum

Great Leadership by the Beat of a Drum

Great Leadership by the Beat of a DrumThis past summer, I was visiting some friends in Montreal, QC and went to see what has come to be known as the “Tam Tam Jam” in Mount Royal Park. For over 40 years, the “Tams” have attracted locals and visitors to listen, dance, and play their hand drums (“tam-tams” in French), or other instruments every Sunday afternoon during the summer months.

As we rode into the park, the air riddled with an intense pulse of drums, we observed thousands of dancers, vendors, and visitors taking in the experience.

Standing at the outskirts of the main tam-tam circle, I noticed that as a ‘jam’ came to an end, everyone began playing to their own tune. Beats were scattered and disorganized; the noise elevated to an almost unpleasant octave; the dancing stopped. Then, two players took charge of the beat and encouraged others to play with the tempo, and gradually, the dancing started up again and I found even myself moving with the music…

Biking away I thought that a few key points on leadership could be learned from this experience:

  • Following a leader is not something that is forced upon people, but rather is a natural reaction of needing and wanting to belong
    • Everyone who participated in the Tam Tam Jam wanted to be there because it made them feel empowered to play their own instrument without judgment
  • Leadership is not a responsibility given to someone, but rather comes from the courage to ask others for help to achieve a common goal
    • The individuals that led the beat didn’t yell at anyone or demand everyone’s attention, but rather built from the existing energy and one-by-one encouraged others to play with them
  • Leaders build a foundation that others can grow from
    • The leaders didn’t force everyone to play the same music, but established a common beat from which they could create their own music
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