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I’m an advocate for finding experiences that give you joy and inspire you to engage more fully with yourself and the world. An activity and avocation that especially moves me is playing the piano and listening to music (of many genres). Today I share one of these experiences with you.

I’d been aware of Astor Piazzolla’s tangos since listening to performances of them in Santa Fe, New Mexico, many years ago. Recently, however, I participated in a virtual conference call that ended with a recording of Libertango, one of Piazzolla’s compositions. I found a YouTube transcription for piano of Libertango performed with passion and eloquence by Russian pianist, Nicolai Kuznetsov, in 2019 (pre-pandemic and before the invasion of Ukraine, obviously) at a concert in Sabadell, Catalonia, Spain, on a Bösendorfer grand piano.

Besides being moved by the pathos and lyricism of the piece, I’m reflecting on the following as I listen (repeatedly) to this soulful piece of music:

  1. The extraordinary era in which we live that affords access to an event in time where a Russian pianist may travel to Catalonia, Spain, perform a work written by an Argentine (whose parents immigrated from Italy) on a remarkable piano, the Bösendorfer, crafted with technology which was developed during the last two centuries in Vienna, and the company now fully owned by Yamaha of Japan. Further, I can listen to this performance in the desert of the U.S. Southwest as many times as I wish. Yes, the networked world we inhabit where ideas, people, products, and information travel quickly and relatively inexpensively offers great possibilities for good. It is also this technology of communication that is driving the crises of identity and shifting boundaries of territory and power, contributing to frustration, increasing disparity of resources, and conflict.
  2. Astor Piazzolla’s composed Libertango in 1974 to establish a clean break from the classical tango, when many listeners adamantly refused to accept his hybrid tango style, which sought to integrate jazz and classical musical influences into a recognizable new tango genre. He was frustrated by these constraints that were being imposed on his compositions and performance. “Libertango” was his manifesto of freedom of musical expression for himself and in response to his critics, signaling a definitive move in his work beyond the realm of the tradition tango style. For me, the driving tempo contrasted with the lyrical melody beautifully captures this tension and the yearning to express and realize what is most meaningful to us. I’m assuming many of us from time to time have experienced this emotion. I know that I have.
  3. Working as an executive coach with individuals and teams and as an organizational consultant, I see that people seek a workplace where they can express their values and identity and feel they belong. They do not necessarily need a ‘family’ in the workplace, but rather a place where they feel sufficiently comfortable (psychologically safe) to express their ideas so they can learn and make contributions. For example, especially younger people reflect about what kind of leader they might be. They contemplate about ways of leading that are compatible with their values and their identity. Thus, how can we create a sense of place and belonging for a diversity of people in organizations? And, for that matter, in societies?
  4. I believe that what we share as humans is more than what is pulling us apart. I think this is demonstrated by this musical composition, Libertango, which across time and space moves many and various people, even though the tango style is a product of a specific cultural context.
  5. We live in an interconnected, VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world where ideas, information, people, and goods travel quickly and easily across borders of time and place. This is a world in which I can enjoy listening to a YouTube performance of Piazzolla/Kuznetsov’s Libertando from the comfort of my home in the US Southwest. However, what are the implications of this reality for leadership and organizations? Our networked world requires vigilance, involving a capacity for self-awareness and awareness of others and particular contexts. It requires an adaptability that welcomes diverse perspectives and multiple interpretations (sometimes global in origin), encourages collective sensemaking and learning, and enables iterative action to advance toward objectives. It requires taking into consideration the emotional dispositions, diverse identities, and the well-being of others. With such capacities, individuals, teams, and organizations are more likely to make sound decisions to realize their strategic goals.

Fénix Leadership & Development supports individuals, teams, and organizations to develop and exercise their capacity effectively in a complex world through science-based tools, frameworks,
and processes.

Performance of Libertango (you can skip YouTube ads after 5 seconds):

I’ve blogged about music and its relationship to leadership, development, and organizations before. See these other ‘music’ blogs:

Black History is American History

Finding Inspiration and Leadership Learning in Beethoven’s Pathetique

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