Just before the pandemic, a German flutist experimented with the idea of “one-to-one concerts.”

One artist. One audience member.

When the pandemic hit, it became immediately clear that these concerts could go on. Not only were the performances immune to COVID-19, they also fed that hunger for connection we all felt. There have now been concerts across Europe, Asia, Australia and the US.

An art reporter attended one of these performances in Brooklyn earlier this year. Sitting atop a building, he listened to a solo viola playing Bach and described it as “almost overwhelming, emotionally and musically.” He later said “It may have been only 10 minutes, but I’ll be thinking about my One-to-One Concert […] for a long time to come.” (I recommend you listen to the 3-minute audio report.)

This concept reminded me of my choice to introduce my company’s ethics & compliance program to each new employee during one-on-one meetings, rather than join other functions who batch new-employee training once every quarter. Let me rush into saying that I do not claim to be a virtuoso at what I do, or that new employees have an emotionally overwhelming experience listening me describe our corporate values! But I do believe that employees are more likely to reach out to me when they have ethical concerns later on if we have met one-on-one soon after they’ve joined. And I have been told, by several employees, sometime years after we first met, how impressed they were to have been invited to this one-on-one alone-time.

Most artists can’t survive on one-to-one concerts. Their need to perform in front of larger audiences is real.

The same need is not necessarily present in ethical leadership.

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