Pursuing Greatness with Ben Hines
For each of us, the New Year brings hope. The possibility of change, for the better. If we’ll take it. Leadership, High Performance Team and Innovation speaker Ben Hines leads by example, showing us how to take the time to discover what matters most, and pursue it wholeheartedly.
Ben Hines brings both his musical and professional experience to the table when facilitating events across the globe. As a former leader in Barclays with over 20 years of commercial leadership experience, Hines is also an avid orchestral French horn player. In 2009, he founded “Moving Performance” which brings together his love of both music and business to help motivate professionals in a new way. Hines recently facilitated an event in Bogota, Colombia with a group of pharmaceutical executives – who wrote and performed their own song related to their work. Intriguing? Ben explains more below:
- What is your unique philosophy through Moving Performance when it comes to inspiring executives?
My philosophy is to inspire change in people through the power of music. I know when I have done my job when people leave a session of ours with key ideas what they will do differently to become a better leader, or a more productive team member or simply believing they can achieve something they may think is impossible. We use music as a practical approach, a metaphor and an enabler for this.
We love using singing and song writing as an approach. Many people would not consider themselves singers – especially at work! However, by writing and performing songs they experience doing something they might not think is possible – and as such leave with a greater belief in their ability to achieve what they need to at work. It sounds simple, but the initial response is always very interesting.
- What kind of response do you normally receive?
When we explain to people we expect them to sing, in my experience, 20% of participants want to run out the room, 20% are ready to start, and the remaining 60% are sitting on the fence. This is a mindset issue and this ratio is reflective of the mindsets you see in the people of many companies when set with a challenging goal or objective. As we take them through the song writing process, however, people find it gives them a chance to really share their true voice. They end up really enjoying and surprising themselves and producing a powerful performance. The beautiful thing about singing is that at its essence it is a very personal thing – you are sharing something deep of yourself – your heart – which is why it is hard to sing in public. Great leaders share their authentic selves with those they lead and this is also a scary thing to do. As participants step up, challenge their mindset and push through that fear, it becomes a great parallel for their work life – they realize they can change their mindsets and step up in what the company is requiring of them. In the end, on average, over 95% have jumped in wholeheartedly and just go for it. I love seeing that transition. It helps people reflect on what mindsets will serve them well when facing challenges in work.
- What are some of the tools and messages you use throughout that transformation?
We use music in numerous ways with executives – from immersing them inside world class orchestras such as the Royal Philharmonic and learning how high performing teams achieve consistent brilliance, to the role of leaders/orchestral conductors in leading teams, to smaller scale workshops where we compose music with professional musicians to learn how they manage themselves and others through ambiguity.
We draw on key insights and leanings from these in our keynote talks, linking directly to the objectives of the client – from the power of listening, to the value of inspiring individuals, to tuning teams.
People are fascinated by it – it is a fresh take on what they are doing and need to do each day. Everyone responds to music, whether they realize it or not. Imagine your favorite movie without a sound track – or for English football fans, watching a game and not joining in the tens of thousands of other fans singing support of their team. People realize they are impacted by and even participate in music regularly.
- How does this translate into the corporate environment?
A major IT company were looking for their leaders to become more disruptive; we engineered some of their team to disrupt my Keynote with a flash mob choir singing about what they needed to do as an organization – it was a dynamic example of the courage it takes to lead and make change in fast paced industries.
Or a retail bank, having been bailed out by the State in the financial crisis, needed to capture some if its core identity and focus. Music became an enabler for them to release the pent-up emotions of several years, and communicate in an innovative and powerful way what was really going for them – both positive and negative. It became a catalyst for change for that organization – allowing them to move back into private ownership down the line.
I work with some of the world’s leading companies and organizations, and what I’ve found is they are hungry to be challenged in a new way. So much of the corporate world involves rational thinking. Music brings a different twist: emotional and creative inspiration. When you apply this to areas such as engineering, banking, retail etc., it can take your outlook to a whole new level.
- What initially inspired this approach?
I was a musician at heart, but eventually chose not to pursue a career in music professionally. I went into business instead (banking), but maintained my love for – and involvement in music.
At one point my company put together a conference in Africa. During the event, we were asked to create a play. As a performer, however, I suggested a song instead – thinking it would be more impactful.
Our group ended up rewriting the hymn “Amazing Grace” – and called the new version “Amazing Change,” tailored to our business and message. When we finally performed it, the house lights dimmed and a lady from Zimbabwe hummed the tune in a beautiful African gospel voice. You could have heard a pin drop. The group joined in and we transformed from a group of bankers into a gospel choir. It was so amazing and many in the audience were moved to tears seeing their colleagues do this. One facilitator who had worked with groups and leaders all over the world called it brilliant! I didn’t realize I had it in me to make something like that happen, and it really impacted my outlook. I knew then it had to continue. I sat on it for five years, developed the concept and finally decided to go for it!
My clients love what we do, and that ties into my ultimate philosophy: everyone can enjoy participating in the musical process and come away with something meaningful and significant from it. It ultimately isn’t about the music – it is about every person being inspired to be the leader or person or to simply do his or her job to the fullest without reservations. At the end of the day, that’s what it is all about.