Arts Management

I teach a number of units at two different universities and one of them is specifically about arts management. One of the essay topics I set the students this year was to examine the leadership qualities of a manager they had worked. The results would make salutary reading for any arts manager because between them, the students thoughtfully captured a great list of dos and don’ts. The leadership qualities, behaviours and processes they wanted to emulate included:

Accessibility, Accountability, Authenticity, Celebrating and rewarding talent, , Communication that was open and honest, Courage, Democratic decision making, Effective change management, delegation, feedback and problem solving, Emotions such as kindness and warmth, Empathy, Empowerment, Encouraging staff development, Flexibility, Humility, Industry knowledge, Integrity, Listening, Mindfulness, Negotiation skills, Participative leadership, Passion in work and life, Professionalism, Risk taking, Self-awareness, Servant leadership, Sharing power, Team building, Time Management, Trust and Vision.

The list of qualities that they wanted to avoid (including some that had caused active psychological damage) included a lot of the “in” and “un” words:

Blaming Others, Emotional expression that was either too tough or left the manager too exposed, Inability to listen, Ineffective communication and delegation, , Indecision, Lack of patience, Lack of performance feedback, Micromanagement, Narcissism, Office politics, Nepotism, Passive aggressive behaviour, Power used in a coercive or inappropriate way, Prioritising money over art, Relationships based on fear, Task orientation  in both an excessive way and with not enough focus, Unavailable, Unfair, Unreliable, Untrustworthy.

These lists are useful reminders of what we should do and not do as art leaders.