The Harmony of Climate and Culture

An Audience Perspective on Leadership Flow Impact

The complexities of leadership often go unnoticed. When attending the performance of a symphony orchestra, there is often a visual understanding that the positive climate and culture a conductor creates with their musicians produces the highest quality of music (Meals, 2020). On one such occasion, I had the opportunity to witness a leader put an entire ensemble into a state of Flow and bring the audience along. With an undetectable separation of fingers, the conductor forced me as an audience member, to quiet my conscience so I could hear the almost inaudible soft volume of an orchestra comprised of over 100 musicians. As a listener, I was inspired by this leader to be fully immersed in the moment.

Corey Ames E.D. , Conductor and Author

“A conductor’s happiness does not come from only his own story and the joy of the music. The joy is about enabling other people’s stories to be heard at the same time.” – Itay Talgam

While the concept of flow has often been associated with a person doing an act that both challenges them and brings joy, this was one of the most memorable experiences of flow I have encountered. When observing the leader/follower relationship of musicians one cannot help but wonder if there is a deeper connection to how this complex relationship works. Recently, a musician flow component was discovered which may shed light on this very idea (Ames, 2024). The concept of conductor-type leadership is the ability to balance a variety of musician talents, give prompt feedback, draw on personal experience, manage time, engage in active listening, and think strategically.

These qualities fit the defining traits of Flow-Leadership (Flow-promoting Leadership Style) exactly (Marer et al., 2016). If a leader can harness the component that enhances Flow in musicians, can they increase Flow in the business realm as well?

A leader’s active listening skill shows the strongest relationship to improved climate and culture and can even negatively impact how feedback is received. With the rise of the Millennials and Gen Z into the workforce as leaders, an increase in active listening could significantly impact on corporate atmosphere and provide leaders with the knowledge to empower their employees into a greater Flow state.

Dissertation by Corey Ames Ed.D. (forthcoming)

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was more widespread understanding about how musicians core skills can transfer into other employment sectors?”

Diana Tolmie – Are Musician’s Our Best Employees?

Contribution by:

A guest contribution by Corey Ames, Ed.D.
Adjunct Professor at VanderCook College of Music in Chicago, IL.
Educational Doctorate at the American College of Education


Ames, C. (2024). Conducting Flow: A Quantitative Correlational Study of Music Conductor Leadership Traits in Millennial Business Managers [Doctoral dissertation, American College of Education]. forthcoming- see here

Marer, P., Buzady, Z., & Vecsey, Z. (2016). Missing Link Discovered: PlantingCsikszentmihalyi’s flow theory into management and leadership practice by using FLIGBY, the official flow leadership game. ALEAS Group.

Meals, C. D. (2020). The question of lag: An exploration of the relationship between conductor gesture and sonic response in instrumental ensembles. Frontiers in Psychology11, Article 573030.