Category Archives: leadership

Northern arts has some great leaders

What’s Up Yukon published this pre-Summit profile on Michele Emslie, Yukon Arts Presenters Summit organizer and Community Programming Director at the Yukon Arts Centre. It’s great to see colleagues and friends acknowledged for their work, in this case over 25 years, and clear vision for their community.

Also fun is this line: “conference will include presentations by several heavy hitters in the Canadian arts and culture sector.” That one appears to refer to me and my fellow Canadian presenters who were invited to speak at the summit. I’m not sure exactly how one becomes a heavy hitter, but I for one do do a lot of talking about realizing a vision of “vibrant communities fueled by the performing arts and its community-engaged partnerships” that has grown out of the Value of Presenting study, and train more and more on contemporary marketing, research and more.

Igniting a SPARC in Haliburton

I was invited to speak at the SPARC Symposium in Haliburton, Ontario this spring. The organizers had a clear vision for this symposium: to bring people working in all parts of the rural arts eco-system together to explore opportunities and challenges, collaborate across communities and open new doors for exchange, resource sharing and a new kind of network focused on meeting the needs of broad rural arts communities.

With that I sought to create an opening keynote that would help establish the conversation using stories and, yes, conversation. My key messages revolved around the ideas of “where there is a will, there is a way”, and a vision of “building vibrant communities fueled by the performing arts and its community-engaged partnerships” and my proposal to consider “public engagement through the arts” where arts are a means to an ends, rather than the end in itself. I told some stories based on my recent work with a focus on small, rural and remote places across Canada to give substance to these ideas through examples. I shared some data from The Value of Presenting study that shows just how much arts presenting organizations in rural and remote communities are leading the way in community-engaged practices.

The conversation and contributions by participants throughout the talk helped set the stage for a fully engaged, working symposium. I loved the energy, the thinking, the sparks that were flying over these four days in Haliburton.

I was also thrilled to see representatives of several regional presenting networks that I have been working with over the last few years at SPARC; there is much space for collaboration, strengthening connections and learning.

SPARC organizers have turned this and all the other amazing working sessions into a unique interactive online magazine. (Sticks and Stones Productions) You can also access my keynote directly on Vimeo. (The other keynotes and videos from the conference are also available there or through the online magazine.)

Finally, my presentation slides are posted on the CAPACOA site for download .

Over the summer SPARC has turned its attention to developing a follow-up conference this fall with the aim to constitute a rural arts network. If you are interested in these ideas, check out their web presence (web, Facebook, Twitter) and get on the e-news list.

Leadership, influence and brand

I recently took a 5-day management course at Schulich School of Business. It was a very good course. I learned some things, validated expertise and I particularly enjoyed seeing profs who work in my field, marketing and strategy, teach.

The program consists of five parts: leadership, marketing, strategy, finance, HR. It is left to the participants to put this all together into a holistic thought pattern for themselves.\

In my view, this is essential.

For instance, marketing is not merely something other people do in your organization. ‘Marketing’ is what everyone who wishes to influence decisions – at any level – needs to do. The processes of getting consumers to buy product A vs product B are remarkably similar to what it means to leverage one’s hard won influence.

Indeed, in my view, influence is best defined as your personal brand equity expressed in the willingness of others to follow you. Frankly leadership is not about leading – it is about giving others reasons to follow.

Case in point: As an external consultant I never have the authority to change anything, I also have no way to reward my clients’ staff with more money. Yet, I lead and we make good things happen. My success is tied to how well I infuse projects with meaning, communicate appreciation, and generate desired outcomes. Naturally, with each successful project my brand equity grows and my capacity to do more good work increases. That’s why leadership (inspire) is such a powerful concept, as compared to management (perspire).