The Jugalbandi is a great Indian analogy for how to partner and team up. It offers life lessons about team work.The Jugalbandi isn’t about the two individuals. It is also about the ensemble that supports the main players. It teaches valuable lessons in teamwork.

Here are my 6 lessons on team work, collaboration, and partnering learnt from jugalbandi, which demonstrates the magic of teamwork.

Watch this jugalbandi clip- read the blog – watch again, to understand the lessons that teamwork can offer.

Trust: If you see this clip you will notice that in this jugalbandi, each brings their unique style. One does not attempt to outshine another. Each is doing what they need to do in their domain. An essential ingredient for a good collaboration is non-competitiveness. It requires the recognition of each person’s unique contribution. It is about the gratitude for the other’s capacity to bring their uniqueness to the fore.

Communication & Connection: Notice eye contact throughout the performance. Both performers would have spent time planning the sequence and structure for this performance. You can see immense connection and communication during the performance. Communication is the essential ingredient that is non-discretionary and irreplaceable. Teams that do not connect and communicate at all levels see hiccups and breakdowns in their performance.

Sometimes I lead; sometimes you will: Each person brings their special magic to a team. Each has prominence at a different time in the game. At times one is front and center and in the focus while at other times you are. We perform in a shared space but at times I am seen more and the other less. Team members and co-leaders need to feel comfortable and secure in this kind of movement. For example, there are times when one and not the other is more suited for front-ending a conversation. Teams that discuss this bring flexibility to their problem-solving along with the magic of teamwork.

Rhythm: Seeing these performers I sense not just the rhythm of the percussion and the footwork but the rhythm of how they initiate, change pace, and movement. Teams need rhythms for almost everything- planning, checking in, monitoring, acknowledging, fun and retrospectives too.

Sensing sharpens our timing: When one is in flow you notice, in this jugalbandi, the other wait, sense, and keep connected. This is so significant, especially in teams people where people have different paces, styles, and manners. Sometimes we have to wait it out to raise something important and at other times we wait to complain or make big requests. Sometimes we even wait to have a difficult conversation. Teaming requires deep sensing and keeping our eyes, ears, and our antenna picking up all the data around us.

No foreground without a background: This Jugalbandi would have been nothing without the background instrumentalists. Quiet when they were and playing when they needed to. The background tensed what was the need. Each of them plays to their strength and brings their music as required. The richness in teams comes when each understands their role, place, time, and movement. In jugalbandi place and movement are acknowledged, celebrated, and valued by the others in the team.

The magic of teamwork summary:


Communication & Connection

Sometimes I lead, sometimes you will


Sensing sharpens our timing

No foreground without a background

Collaborating in teams can be risky because of

  • need for higher recognition
  • competitiveness
  • unwillingness to share space
  • insecurity
  • the inability to be courageous and have open conversation..
  • issues of self-preservation


Each time I have seen a Jugalbandi or an ensemble it has inspired me. Today’s workplaces are so driven by individual need to shine and hence seeing great collaboration is energizing, motivating, and restores our faith in teaming. It also establishes that ‘together we are more. Leaders can borrow ideas for teaming from jugalbandi.


I wish to shine the warmest and shiniest light on my friend and colleague @Ragini Rao from @Infinum Growth Insights. She and I have had one such Jugalbandi for the last 9 years. A collaboration that displays all the ingredients I described above. Thanks, @Ragini for walking with me and creating the magic in our work. I say kudos to us as we have strived hard and practiced much to be the team we are!


Did any other idea onlessons from teaming occur to you when you saw the clip on jugalbandi?



















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































 Did any other idea on teaming occur to you when you saw the clip?





































































































































































































































































From your teaming experience, any other lesson about teamwork you wish to share?












































































Sailaja Manacha

Sailaja Manacha

Sailaja Manacha, a Master certified Coach from ICF, is known for her programs and coaching methods that combine psychology with leadership practices. In her work, Sailaja draws from Psychology, Ontology, NLP and Spiritual frameworks as well as rich, real-world experiences.

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