What is leadership?

In business, leadership is linked to performance and while it’s not solely about profit, those who are viewed as effective leaders are those who increase their company’s bottom line and improve other areas such as social impact, market share, employee retention, and vision.

Are Leaders Born or Made?

While there are people who seem to be naturally endowed with more leadership abilities than others, people can learn to become leaders by improving particular skills. However, leadership is also about behavioural change and adopting new attitudes.

Why Leadership Development May Fail

There are many leadership training organisations out there and many organisations spend enormous amounts of money on employee training and education. But, many are not getting a good return on their investment. For the most part, the learning doesn’t lead to better organisational performance, because people soon revert to their old ways of doing things.

An example was cited in a case study by Harvard Business Review where “Participants described the program as very powerful. For a whole week they engaged in numerous tasks that required teamwork, and they received real-time feedback on both individual and group behaviour. The program ended with a plan for taking the learning back into the organisation. Pre- and post-training surveys suggested that participants’ attitudes had changed.

A couple of years later, when a new general manager came in to lead the division, he requested an assessment of the costly program. As it turned out, managers thought little had changed as a result of the training, even though it had been inspiring at the time. They found it impossible to apply what they had learned about teamwork and collaboration, because of a number of managerial and organisational barriers.”

Too many training initiatives rest on the assumption that one size fits all and that the same group of skills or style of leadership is appropriate regardless of strategy, organisational culture, or CEO mandate. We think otherwise.

Tools Verses Skills

Have you ever completed a personal or work-based personality test? Many of us have and though they are fun and describe our possible attitudes and traits too often we take them on-board lightly and never use them to change ourselves for the good.

Leadership programmes also use tools and models to help define leadership needs and impact such as the GROW model (a simple method for goal setting and problem solving), the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (a self-report questionnaire with the purpose of indicating differing psychological preferences in how people perceive the world around them and make decisions), and 360 degree–feedback (a system or process in which employees receive confidential, anonymous feedback from the people who work around them) to name a few.

However, we believe a brilliant leader in one situation does not necessarily perform well in another. Though tools may help training providers to measure the impact of their training and recipients may get a nice report, without the right tools or skills to instigate and practice aspects of leadership one cannot affect change. That’s why we take a dual skills and leadership approach.

Why Section Leadership?

If we believe a brilliant leader in one situation does not necessarily perform well in another, and that they need certain tools and skills needed to perform leadership effectively, we can easily identify where help and assistance is needed.

That’s why we categorise leadership quality requirements and use group and 1-2-1 discussions with an array of professional associates to help build behavioural change and upskill the person in question. If this involves investing in tools, we do this too.

Focused Leadership

In our experience when potential or existing leaders see our list below they often relate to areas that they feel they need improvement. Making our leadership training personal and focused. We categorise leadership quality requirements as:

  • Social leadership (improving society regardless of social standing, wealth, or privilege)
  • Sector politics (political awareness and with the necessary political skills required to thrive in the sector)
  • Digital leadership (the strategic use of a company’s digital assets to achieve business goals and may address both organisational and individual levels)
  • Employee leadership (focusing on employee engagement which an employee’s positive or negative emotional feelings about their job, colleagues and organisation influence their willingness to learn and perform at work)
  • Business growth leadership (utilise vital skills that enable them to set direction and lead their teams to win more business and grow their organisations internally and externally)
  • Cultural leadership (the act of leading the cultural sector and may involve developing and implementing policy for the cultural sector and involvement in the wider sector network)
  • Financial leadership (involves ensuring that accounts respond to the continually changing expectations of their organisations, the financial markets, and society)
  • New start-up leadership (for the next generation of creative people and businesses founders and entrepreneurs who wish to start a business and may lead to more leadership in the sector)
  • Community leadership (bringing people together that are capable of improving a local issue/community etc. and someone who may represent others)

Emerging Leaders

Having helped many businesses and social enterprises to start-up and by being involved in many business support programmes, we can safely say that that those who start their own business have leadership potential, and many go on to volunteering in trade and community lead groups.

We believe tomorrow’s cultural leaders are from this pool of new businesses or they may be emerging from an early stage in their careers as an employed person. Or they may be cultural entrepreneurs who had never until now thought of themselves as occupying a leadership role.

Canvassing the creative industries and arts and culture sector is one way to identify emerging leaders, but research has also shown that unless an actual project is available to exercise leadership any classroom-based leadership training will only yield 10-20% retention. This must be considered when exercising any leadership training or programme within your organisation or in your county.

Need to discuss leadership in your organisation? Have a leadership project that needs assistance?

More About

Our Experience & Background

We have expert skills in many areas and have been advising businesses and practitioners for over 20 years. Director Andrew Knutt, has a strong creative and commercial background having started, built up and sold several businesses including an IT services company, online ecommerce company, and a design, digital/media and marketing company. Andrew is also a qualified business adviser, social enterprise adviser, a designer, digital artist and is co-founder and director of Creative Innovation Centre CIC and its arts centre and gallery in Taunton.

Andrew has worked on many large projects for government agencies and councils including a £4m business support and technology-based project for Somerset; funded by Somerset County Council and EU. A creative industry £2m project for iNet, a £1m food and drink sector project, and a £1m project for Dorset as business developer for Arts Council ‘Creative Local Growth Fund’ supported by the EU. All demanding strong partnerships with many organisations, practitioners and agencies. Also, many smaller projects throughout the South West.

Creative Developments is associated with and works with many partners, stakeholders and organisations. We also have many memberships and sit on many creative industry groups, boards and associations. These include Institute of Business Consulting (part of Institute of Management) – Membership No. 004125667, Fellow of Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) – Membership No. 8001957. Association for Cultural Enterprises (ACE), Visual Arts South WestArts Marketing Association, South West Tourism Alliance, Somerset Arts Business Cultural Alliance: Member & Chairman, European Interest Group on Creativity and Innovation (“EICI”) – Member, chairman of Somerset Innovation + DesignTaunton Digital Innovation Group, and many more groups throughout the UK.

We don’t just talk and help build business. We also get involved in all forms of creative activities and helped organise festivals, art exhibitions, music events, creative workshops and training, community engagement projects, youth music and theatre, leadership, sector support activities and conferences, visual arts and much more.

We advise on matters of business planning, marketing, promotion, skills educations, funding (private and public), audience development, personal development, technology, partnership development, sector growth, operations procedures, marketing, branding, event management, policies, boards, leadership and ideas generation.

Did you know that we have advised over 1000 practitioners, organisations and businesses? Many who come from visual arts, arts and craft makers, venues and galleries, designers, community groups, sculptors, musicians, educational institutions, theatre production companies, writers, local councils and many more throughout the South West region.