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Blog - Leaders are everywhere

Leaders are everywhere

Posted by Louise Jeffreys - Guest Blogger 08/08/17

people with speech bubblesWhere do you find leaders? At the top of the organisational hierarchy? No! You can find them everywhere.

Having worked in the arts for many years, I have met many ‘charismatic’ leaders. Often flamboyant, (apparently) confident, innovative and exciting individuals; these are the conductors and directors who are frequently the public face for the arts. However, the arts leaders that run the organisations that support these public figures are, in my opinion, more effective when they embrace a quieter and adaptive leadership style which maximises the capabilities of the workforce by developing and recognising the leadership skills of others.  

I strongly believe that leadership is not only found in people who have the word ‘leadership’ in their Job Descriptions (assigned leaders) but also from talented individuals across every level of an organisation (emergent leaders) - whether they have an agreed leadership role or not. The ‘assigned’ leader who recognises this will find a previously hidden resource. They will create a culture in which groups of people will collaborate to inspire themselves and each other to achieve outcomes often greater than they set out to achieve.

These are my top tips to myself as a leader who believes in supporting leadership potential in others:

  • The success of the organisation is more important than any individual within it.
  • Be honest and open about your strengths and your weaknesses because that’s good for you and the organisation.
  • Empower people who love doing the things you are not so good at - things you thought would be difficult get done.
  • Giving credit where it’s due is a sign of confidence and enhances rather than diminishes your authority.
  • Don’t be afraid of failure - the only real failure is a failure to learn from failure.
  • If you never fail you are not trying hard enough.
  • Strong organisations rely on the many not the few.
  • It’s amazing how many ideas people have if you ask and listen to them.
  • Engaged people work harder.

Working in this way helps to develop a thriving arts sector which supports a range of creative, dynamic and collaborative leaders across the organisation who believe that the arts can make a difference to the world and can mobilize people to develop imaginative solutions to tough challenges.

You may also like Louise’s blog for us from earlier in the year looking at the power of reflection.

Louise Jeffreys - Guest Blogger
Louise Jeffreys - Guest Blogger

Louise Jeffreys leads the artistic marketing and media relation functions at the Barbican Centre and is responsible for the formulation, implementation and delivery of the Barbican's artistic programme and strategic vision. She was previously Head of Theatre and Arts Projects at the Centre, programming and leading Barbican International Theatre Events (BITE) which became one of London's most innovative artistic programmes, presenting and co-commissioning leading international theatre, dance and opera. Prior to the Barbican, her previous roles include Administrative Director at the Nottingham Playhouse, Head of Production at Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich, and Technical Director at the English National Opera. Jeffreys is a certified ILM Executive Coach and Mentor, Chairman for the ABTT (Association of British Theatre Technicians), and is on the Board of Trustees for the English National Opera and Told by an Idiot.

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