The club committee had organized for an intra-company shuttle tournament and the partners for the doubles game were chosen through lots. It happened that the senior-most manager got clubbed with a production worker and they advanced to the finals too. While the final game was in progress, this worker slipped and fell; pain was writ on his face. Without a second’s hesitation the manager checked his partner’s leg, massaged it a little and got him ready for the rest of the game. They eventually won. While playing the game as partners, there was no hierarchical power distance on which the manager stood; he knew how to handle the emergency himself and did so without waiting for others.
Contrast this with a senior Government bureaucrat who was swearing at the gate-keeper in a temple. He had been made to wait in the queue and not allowed to cut across to have a special view of the deity. He felt belittled. His being treated as yet another devotee was humiliating and consequently angered him. A simple truth escaped him. His official administrative influence couldn’t anyway guarantee him privileged blessings as a devotee. While the senior manager could effortlessly orchestrate and adapt to his role, the bureaucrat was ‘stuck’ with his authority and power no matter where.
In an interview, Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi had mentioned about an advice she had received when her career started zooming. Her mother had suggested that she learn to leave her official ‘hat’ along with her shoes at the doorstep when she enters home. Nooyi had said that she treasures, follows and has benefited from this wisdom.
Learning to wear the hat that is suitable for the occasion sounds easy. But, it requires consistent awareness till it becomes an unconscious competence. ‘Orchestration’ is about organizing ourselves with the right hat to respond effectively to the situation we are in and to the people we are with. This is a dependable way to ensure a desired effect or outcome.
In plain words, orchestration is ‘being for the purpose’ and hundred percent at that. All of us play many roles in our lives. In each of those ‘characters’, different stakeholders relate to us. Naturally, the demands of tasks vary.
Official roles and family roles could be as different as chalk and cheese. Again there would be several positions within: superior, peer or subordinate and offspring, parent or spouse. Similarly, playing friend, host or guest entails different hats. Contextual responses in each role may have many shades. The head and heart need to get balanced in varying proportions as we orchestrate to do justice to our roles and the purpose at hand.
One could be a little puzzled here. Wouldn’t we rather be ourselves in any role? Would this not amount to play-acting and manipulating to serve our purpose? The key phrase to consider here is ‘sincerity of intent’ with the larger good in mind. When a politician hugs an elderly lady, not many fall for that. When advertisements scream to sell their ware, ‘caveat emptor’ is the principle. Therefore, it is genuineness of purpose and earnestness of action that clearly delineate orchestration from manipulation.
Many of us have a natural temperament which we unknowingly allow to dominate all our roles. A basically dominant person finds it difficult to give in and adjust even when the circumstance demands it as was seen in the case of the bureaucrat above. Wearing wealth, power and position lightly on our sleeves enables better orchestration. Then, the situation would supersede the person; the individual would effortlessly fit into the larger jig-saw puzzle. The attempt is not to focus on the ‘self’; it is to have the bigger picture colourful and beautiful.
Where we stand in the family line and how that has shaped our outlook could be an interesting exercise in awareness. The eldest, the youngest, the middle-pins and the single child – each has a different imprint influencing temperament. Our background and exposure shape us substantially, but need not be binding chains. We free ourselves when we are fluid to suit the situation rather than always be ‘someone’.
Being for the purpose brings out our best. Sticking on to one’s basic temperament claiming inability to change could make life bland. Manipulating to serve selfish gains may start as music but would end in cacophony sooner than later. Earnest orchestration harmonizes and makes life a symphony to be enjoyed with an unobtrusive smile.
(The writer may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)