How the arts help hone leadership skills

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A London Business School student takes his seat at a piano. Hands poised over the keys, he prepares to play with a professional jazz quartet. Except the student has never played piano in his life.

The one stipulation is that he can play only the black keys. Otherwise he can do whatever he wants while the other musicians improvise around him — and together they somehow make surprisingly pleasing music. The point is to encourage students to let go of being an expert and embrace the “beginner’s mind”.

The exercise is part of a two-hour jazz session designed to help business leaders learn from the skills and behaviours of jazz musicians, and forms part of LBS’s Leading Change programme, a five-day executive education course and one of several at different schools applying the arts to business.

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