What Does a Leader Look Like?

‘What Does A Leader Look Like?’ was the theme at a conference for South West arts organisations in February 2014.  Farooq Chaudhry, who became the Producer for English National Ballet in October 2013 gave a great talk about his experience and thoughts on this, alongside Sue Hoyle OBE, Director of the Clore Leadership Programme and Claire Hodgson, theatre/dance director and conference organiser. Lots of input and discussion came from around 100 cultural leaders involved in dance, theatre, music, circus, film, museums, libraries, freelance producers, Arts Council England and local authorities.

We talked about ‘cultural leaders’ and how to bring the next generation on. I thought I’d write a blog to give a flavour of the day for our Young Music Leaders and others involved in pushing creative ideas forward (e.g. on the Youth Music Network site). Through the day, words kept coming up that help define the qualities of a good leader. These are some of them:

Personal characteristics:

Attitude – Leadership is about attitude and approach, not qualifications and training.

Vision – filter all your dreams down to one or two that you and your team really love.

Excellence: Strive for the best.

Confidence. Have confidence in yourself and build it in others. Lack of confidence is the biggest barrier to action.

Trust your team – why are they with you if you don’t trust them?

Risk taking without gambling recklessly, experiment, try, believe in success.

Rebelliousness – don’t accept convention is best. Challenge the norm, push boundaries.

Make a difference. Stand up and be counted.

Empathy towards people.

Listening – your way may not be the best.

Respect for others and differing views.

Enthusiasm – communicate your belief in your vision.

Commitment and determination to see something through.

Perseverance to overcome problems.

Stamina – in it for the long haul.

Calm – panic can lead to bad decisions and wobble team confidence.

Honesty – openness identifies challenges that can be resolved.

Integrity – to your values and those of your team.

Patience – problems always arise and may delay progress. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Judgement – when exploring something new, you may not know the answer and there may be no right or wrong way; use your experience and knowledge to guide you.

Responsibility – own up to things that go wrong.

Leave ego behind. Its not about you, its about an idea.

Project delivery:

Teamwork – build a team that shares your vision, working for an idea, not you.

Diversity in your team – gives new ideas, ways of working, culture and approach.

Reducing barriers to become involved could involve approaches to work such as employing someone to achieve a task where payment is not based on the hours they work but on the value they bring to the project. This gives team members the flexibility to do the job in the time of their own choosing, not restricted to regular office hours. As long as they deliver the work by the deadline you have, they can work around commitments in their personal life such as childcare and looking after family elders.

Collaboration – other individuals and organisations can help you and add excellence. You don’t have to be alone.

Decide – the team can advise, but you should be decisive when needed.

Priority/select – lots of options may be open to you. Diluting your efforts could lead to loss of excellence. Stay focused.

Then there are all the normal processes of project management that are embedded in Youth Music’s and other good project work:

Research; plan; action; monitor; evaluate; share; adapt; repeat on a loop.

You know the score – it’s all in ‘Ideas Into Action’.

Can you add other leadership qualities?


Ideas into Action

Welcome to B Sharp’s ‘Ideas Into Action’.

These notes aim to help young people who want to make things happen, and to encourage innovation and enterprise in music. Once understood, the principles can be applied to any type of project. The notes have been divided into different sections and can be explored by clicking on the subject headings in the table of contents.

More music resources, compiled by B Sharp, can be found in Links to Progress your Music Interests and Journey.


Introduction to Event and Project Planning

Aims and Objectives

Actions and Timetabling

Management, Communication and Teamwork

What Does A Leader Look Like?

Resources and Budgets



Responsibilities and Safety

Results, Monitoring and Evaluation

Social Enterprise and B Sharp

The B Sharp Resources website has been developed as part of B Sharp’s project  Young Leaders @ The Hub, taking place in The HubLyme Regis. The project is funded by Youth MusicWest Dorset District Council and Lyme Regis Town Council. We are very grateful to have their support.

Responsibilities and Safety

If you organise a project, you will have certain responsibilities. Key ones are

  • The safety and wellbeing of those who help organise it or take part.
  • Looking after money and making sure you don’t go into debt.
  • Keeping to the law, understand and practice any policies your organisation has, and obtain any licences you may need.

The Concert Promoters Association has a code of coduct which is good to follow if you are putting on a music event.

The safety of people is the most important responsibility you will have. Making sure things are safe is good customer care, respectful to people and avoids getting into trouble if you have caused an accident by being careless/negligent. The Guardian’s Voluntary Sector Network has a good blog about this.

Every project should carry out a risk assessment, where you think of all the risks that may arise to people from what you do. As an example, Parkinson’s UK has a Events Risk Assessment Form put together for their fund-raising events. You can make your own form and write down the risks, how they will be minimised and who will be responsible for doing so. If risks seem too high, you should do it differently so the risk is small, or simply not do the project.


For an event, you would want to know that people could get out of a building or area quickly and safely if there was an emergency. You could ensure this by

  • Checking there are enough exits and they are unlocked and unblocked.
  • Not having more people in the place than is recommended/allowed by the fire service.
  • There are stewards who know what to do and can help direct people out of the area.
  • There are no trip hazards on the exit routes.
  • Emergency lighting works if there is a power cut.

You may have done the best you can to avoid accidents but one may still happen. As an organiser, you will be liable for any costs resulting from an accident if you could have reasonably done something to prevent it. This could run into millions of pounds. Insurance should be taken out to cover your liabilities.

As well as doing a risk assessment for specific projects, when working in an organisation or your own business, you should be generally mindful of safety and the behaviour of yourself and those around you. Read, understand and practice the policies of your organisation. They are there for the protection of everyone. For example, B Sharp has

Health and Safety Policy for B Sharp Ltd

B Sharp Ltd Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy

B Sharp Ltd Equality Policy

Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures

As a young person, if you see something that seems unsafe or appears to be inappropriate behaviour such as bullying, you should tell a responsible adult.

The government has a useful document Diversity & Equal Opportunities

Behaviour has an impact on your brand. Your behaviour is not just observed in your immediate surroundings, but also online. The Internet has a long memory. Beware and be sensitive!

To find the list and links to all B Sharp’s posts about event and project planning, go here: Ideas into Action

Links to other music resources, compiled by B Sharp, can be found here.

Introduction to Event and Project Planning

These notes are for young promoters and emerging leaders and are intended to help you successfully organise events and projects you may want to put on. The principles explained here can be used for any type of project you want to do in the future.

By the end of these notes you should understand some of the basics of

To find a list and links to all B Sharp’s posts about event and project planning, go to Ideas into Action

Links to other music resources, compiled by B Sharp, can be found here.

What is planning?

Planning is about having an idea, thinking ahead and deciding on how to make it happen, ensuring that the resources required for any actions will be available, and timetabling work to achieve what you want to happen. A plan does not have to be complicated or lengthy.

We plan many things in our everyday lives – our holidays, what’s for dinner, shopping, homework etc. It’s not a difficult step to apply these skills to projects.

Why plan?

An event is more likely to be successful if it has been well planned in advance. Projects and business are about juggling risk and reward. The bigger and more complicated a project is, the more things can go wrong. Planning will help avoid hiccups in the middle of the project.

Planning will help you

  • Know if the idea is realistic and achievable.
  • Find out how much it will cost to put your plans into action.
  • Get people to come or involved by finding and telling them about your idea.
  • Know if it was successful and improve it in the future.

Your project may start from something that frustrates you and you want to do something about it, or you’ve spotted a gap in the market that you’d like to fill. Is there something that isn’t going on but you think should? You probably have a rough idea or vision of what you’d like to see happen.

The most important thing about any project is to have a good understanding of why you have your idea and what you want to achieve. What made you think about it? Why do you want to do it? When you know what you want to get out of doing something, you can start thinking about how you will get there and make it happen.

The more you get into project planning and management, the more you will come across the phrase ‘aims and objectives’. These are about ways of thinking, to help you get the right result and are the foundation of projects. They are explained in the next blog.