The Culture Code: implications for choral leadership

Liz Garnett

Issue Two | Page 51 | October 2021


Daniel Coyle's The Culture Code (2018) documents behaviours that characterise highly successful organisations. Using case studies from business, the military, sports teams and schools, he identifies a cluster of common themes focusing on group members' sense of belonging.

This paper cross-references Coyle's themes with the literature on choral conducting and material from observations of choirs in rehearsal, with particular reference to rehearsal techniques, leadership styles, and nonverbal communication. The comparison suggests that whilst choral singing as an activity inherently generates some of these belonging cues, some of its typical structures and practices also inhibit them. Choral practitioners also tend to over-rely on building a sense of purpose, at the expense of Coyle's two other themes, safety and vulnerability. The analysis produces some clear practical ramifications for choral leaders, as well as insights into changing choral leadership styles.

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