At some point in my life, I wanted to be a conductor.
For myself, one of the more difficult things about wanting to be a conductor was enduring the constant question of what a conductor actually did on stage. I was always kind of lousy describing it, because it's really one of those things that you have to experience, either as a performer or as a conductor, to understand.
At this stage, I would probably say that the role of the conductor is to negotiate some kind of coherent performance between the musicians before them. However, there's a great article in The Morning News right now that does a much better job than I, in part because instead of describing it, the author actually stands in front of an orchestra and conducts it. Moreover, he's an amateur, with the blessings that this status can bestow, like an open mind.
It's a wonderful read, in part because the author, unlike many of the people who asked me that question back in the day, is prepared to consider the possibility that the conductor actually does something. That's a refreshing change!