Artful Leadership

I was fortunate last week to attend a cultural leadership seminar in Bournemouth and hear from Ruth McKenzie, Chief Executive of the Cultural Olympiad and Phil Gibby, Chief Executive of Arts Council England South West. These were two very different speakers, but both bringing leadership to the cultural sector. There were some excellent messages for the business world. (My thoughts are in italics)

Ruth McKenzie spoke about leadership where there is no hierarchy. With flatter business organisations, empowerment and more collaborative partnerships, leaders will have to find other ways to influence people. A key message was, if you have to tell, you’ve failed. (Interestingly on the Big Question this morning, one speaker said of the Libyan crisis, if we have to impose democracy with the gun, then we have failed.)

Ruth went on to say that when we empower people, we need to delegate and that means giving power away and trusting people. This is very hard for some. We need to use creativity to find ways to inspire people.

Another key message was ‘keep on being scared!’ If you don’t wake up as a leader and think, ‘O.M.G. can I do this?’ then you are not challenging yourself enough.

Phil Gibby gave seven tips for leaders, which were somewhat different to Steven Covey’s.

  1. Keep moving so you don’t stagnate. Don’t stay too long in the job.
  2. Be flexible and prepared to change your stance
  3. Be comfortable with controversy
  4. Leadership is not always top down, so find who the real leaders are in your organisation
  5. Remember the consumer is not a moron (Politicians and bank executives please note)
  6. Managers make decisions while leaders grasp nettles
  7. Surround yourself with smarter people, support them, give them a job to do and let them get on with it. (Back to delegation again – you can’t do it all yourself)

I think the business; cultural and voluntary sectors can learn much from each other and for true sustainability in the coming years, will need to.

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