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Music serves as the perfect metaphor for leadership. The parallels between music and leadership are not always clear to the naked eye, however, if you listen closely you can begin to draw on and learn from the similarities. It is imperative as a leader to understand and be mindful not only of the context of each conflict presented but to listen and respond in a way that helps maintain the inertia of forwarding progress.


Conflict is a natural aspect of communication and interactions with others. The TKI is an assessment that interprets your input and gives you materials to best use your conflict-management skills. It is designed to measure a person’s behavior in conflict situations. TKI breaks down behavior into two categories of assertiveness and cooperativeness. Competition, collaboration, compromise, avoidance, and accommodation are also subfactors that play into one’s behavioral response.



Music takes into account leadership, conflict management, and even context while playing alongside others. There are moments in this video by 2CELLO’s “Thunderstruck” that display moments of each of the characteristics displayed on the TKI scale. For example, at 1:25, there is a moment of accommodation and then at 1:35 there is a moment where we hear a competing response. If you watch closely you will even notice that the audience is impacted by these changes in sound. In leadership, we too have to be observant of how our response to others in a time of conflict impacts those who are around observing the interaction. However, let it be known that movement in the right direction can still be possible as long as you are not avoiding the conflict. For example, in the musical illustration above, at 2:05 and again at 2:30, 2:45 and 3:17 there are yet additional clear and compelling shifts in the musical conversation. One artist (leader) makes an adjustment so that two competing ideas still lead to a positive result.

Awareness, mindfulness, and communication is key when leading in music. However, we must think carefully about competing and what the end goal is to a given situation.

Any form of music takes into account the struggles of leading and communication. I encourage you to listen carefully to the musical illustration above and then study the TKI assessment and note all the different components of conflict communication. I believe you will find that even all the sub-categories are present. In your own leadership actions around conflict, be mindful as to what style you are using to communicate, whether it be competing, avoiding, accommodating, or collaborating. The style you use to communicate will most likely have a direct impact on the successfulness of the conflict resolution outcome.