Over the course of my career, I have been fortunate enough to work with both excellent and terrible leaders. My observations from those experiences have helped me develop the type of leadership I strive for when I am in charge. One of the most important lessons I learned is how different the atmosphere can feel when a leader leads because they believe in the collective mission, rather than simply trying to stand out as an individual. As Thornton Wilder said, “Leadership is for those who care about the common good.”
As an artistic leader, I believe it is important to create a safe, inclusive, and collaborative environment where everyone feels valued and respected. This means creating a space where people feel comfortable taking risks and making mistakes, knowing that they will not be punished or ridiculed. It also means giving everyone a voice and a stake in the work, so that they feel ownership over its success or failure. I believe that clear expectations and timelines are essential for creating a safe and productive work environment. When people know what is expected of them and the timeline, they are less likely to feel stressed or overwhelmed. They are also more likely to be motivated to do their best work. I am not a micromanager. I believe that people are more likely to be successful when they are given the autonomy to perform their duties based on the trust that is placed in their expertise. However, I am also available to provide support and guidance when needed. I am humble enough to admit that I don’t always have the best answer and I am open to feedback and new ideas. It is sometimes more prudent to listen than to speak. I am also prepared to make difficult decisions, but I always do so with the team’s best interests in mind. Honesty and integrity are essential to my leadership style.
I believe that leadership is not about putting the leader above others, nor is it about asking someone to do something that I, as a leader, would not be willing to do myself. Rather, it is about working together as a team and supporting each other. Success is defined by what we accomplish together, and everyone should be recognized for their contributions. However, if we fail, I take full responsibility as the leader. I believe that a strong leader respects and acknowledges those around them for their talents and their work. Leaders should empower their team and only consider themselves successful when the team is successful. Strong leaders should recognize their collaborators’ strengths and use them to make the work the best it can be. The only time I have felt truly successful in my career is when I have seen my collaborators passionate about their work and proud of what they have accomplished, knowing that my leadership and support helped them achieve their goals.