Every time I’ve picked up the guitar to play or practice I’ve first had to tune it. Then there is the varied humidity during the summer months, which makes the string tensions more varied than at other times of the year. If I don't tune it, it's off-key.

Leading people is a lot like tuning a guitar. Each string has to be adjusted differently. Some are very far out of tune while others just need a slight tweak to get them back.

This morning with the guitar hanging from my neck I looked down at the tuner on the edge of the guitar’s body and began to test and adjust each string.

After tuning the second string my focus pulled back slightly and I saw the entire six strings in full view and I recognized them as a unit, a team. And, I realized these were the ‘team members’ I needed to help me achieve my goal of playing the guitar properly in tune and delivering a melody that was pleasant to listen to.

I then realized that the act of tuning the guitar is similar to leading a team of people.

Each one is different, in terms of its size, weight, texture, tension, strength and the sound it makes. Each one also has strengths in certain situations and weaknesses in others.

Just like the people we lead in organizations.

Some days our people are in tune. Some days they need tuning. Some days they are ready to go and some days they need an attitude or motivation adjustment.

One day last week right in the middle of playing a song, one of the strings broke and I had to replace it with a new string. Sometimes that happens to our team members, too.

In leadership it's important to remember that every person on our team is a unique human being with dreams, desires, aspirations, personal frailties and insecurities, but also great strengths and unique abilities.

As leaders we need to learn how to play those we lead. I don’t mean in a manipulative, condescending way, but in a way that helps bring out the best in them.

We need to get to know them so that we can help them fine tune their own approach, their attitudes, their skills and knowledge so they can help us, in conjunction with their co-workers/teammates to play beautiful music for our organizations.

Author's Bio: 

Skip Weisman is The Leadership & Workplace Communication Expert. Skip works with the leaders and teams in small to medium sized businesses and not-for-profits to improve communication, collaboration and teamwork in a way that delivers champion level results. To get started on improving your organization’s communication download the free report “The 7 Deadliest Sins of Leadership & Workplace Communication,” available at www.HowToImproveLeadershipCommunication.com