There is a lot a discussion about the difference between management and leadership.
For me, management is a version of “doing” – that is you are very good (or at least competent) at getting things done.
If you have a career as a professional arts administrator, manager or producer, you are more than likely very good at “getting things done”. You would be unlikely to hold your current role much less get another if you could not produce results, get a show up at time, balance a budget etc.
Being a leader is completely different.
As the wonderful Nick Waterworth puts it: Leadership is having a plan, making it simple, telling others, telling them again, and then adapting as you need.
For me leadership is about developing a vision, communicating it, and recruiting support.
It takes a completely different head space, view of yourself and the world to be a leader.
Firstly, you need to know yourself: not just your strengths, weaknesses and personality quirks. You need to know your values, your motivations, your view of the world and what you want to express and create in it.
You need to allow yourself space for time and reflection. Unlike the busy doing of management, leadership requires stepping back, seeing the whole picture, making connections, seeing the opportunities.
You need to have the courage to take inspired actions. You have to get off the treadmill of constant effort and take those leaps of faith and intuition.
You need to inspire others. Leadership is not about delegation and accountability. It’s about creating an opportunity for someone else to connect to their vision and values, and come along with you.
You need to respect others and inspire respect. As a manager you have a good reputation to uphold. However as a leader you need to model the types of behaviours you want to see around you.
You need to champion others. Leadership is all about giving opportunities for others. You need to be generous, acknowledge the contributions of others, and share the credit freely.
You need to be ready to take risks, make mistakes and learn. A good manager will work damn hard for a project to succeed. You need them in your team. However when an unforeseen situation occurs and pooh hits the fan, you need to be honest and acknowledge the error.
You need to be curious and constantly learning. A good manager knows their stuff and gets on with the job. A great leader is constantly evolving, seeing opportunities to develop themselves and others through their projects and ideas.
You need to consult regularly and often – but not be afraid to make a decision.
You need to have great support. No-one becomes or stays a leader by themselves. You need a network of mentors, sponsors, honest brokers and trusted advisers to keep you sane, smiling and safe. You need to know that it is more than OK to be vulnerable and ask for help.
Leadership is a different game from managing and doing. It is a way of being much more than a job title. Being a leader is about being willing to change yourself and others, as well as the world around you.
If that excites and inspires you, create a little space and begin to explore the opportunities around you.
Judith Bowtell of Albany Lane is an executive coach offering workshops, mentoring and coaching to individuals and organisations in the arts. Her background includes more than 20 years’ experience in arts strategy and policy, in funding and cultural agencies, as well as leading small arts organisations.
Contact us if you want to know more about how you can develop your leadership ability.