Well, mostly, they wave their arms and get paid a lot. Like most senior managers (good and bad), they don’t seem to do much at all.
In this TED talk, Itay Talgam uses some wonderful examples of conductors at work to show how less can often be more, and even how nothing at all can be everything. I found his last example quite awe-inspiring.
Thanks to JD for sending me the video. I’m sorry it took me so long to watch it.