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Maestro strikes a corporate chord

Benjamin Zander
Zander is empowering both the business and music world.

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- A musical conductor is an unlikely candidate to tell executives how to improve performance.

But after spending three decades inspiring musicians, British-born Benjamin Zander, 63, has become one of the hottest properties on the corporate motivation circuit.

His unconventional pitch focuses on breaking down hierarchies and tapping into potential.

Zander, who is celebrating 25 years with the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, talks of vision, teamwork and inclusion, rather than winner-loser scenarios and power play.

And his message has struck a chord with executives worldwide.

"There are many things that the conductor or a teacher and a president of a corporation have in common. Each gets his power from the ability to make other people powerful," Zander told CNN.

"It's about giving power away. Once people get that, it is a very profound shift -- the idea that we're awakening people," says Zander.

Corporate executives are similar to conductors, he says. Both lay out the plans to meet the goals, whether making money or making music.

Zander has addressed world business leaders at the World Economic Forum three times. Other audiences include Merril Lynch, Hewlett Packard -- even the U.S. army.

"What I am talking about is transformation -- an environment in which people feel as though they're valued and cared for and appreciated and free -- free to breathe, free to invent, free to make mistakes, free to take risks and free to relate," says Zander.

The maestro says giving everyone a voice is a key to success. "We've got a new kind of world which is much less hierarchical and much less driven by competitive imperatives."

CNN's Andrew Carey contributed to this report


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