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?


Aims and Objectives


Aims are what you want to achieve and the purpose of your project.

Establishing your aims is the starting point of making your idea a reality. Everything else you do should be based around achieving your aims. Different events will have different aims. Some examples here are taken from Woodroffe School’s Aims and Objectives of Events info and worksheet

  • Events that are staged as celebrations aim to provide pleasure for the people attending.
  • Fund raising events aim to raise as much money as possible.
  • The aim of most sporting events is to provide spectators with an enjoyable sporting spectacle.

Keep referring back to your aims when you make your project happen. As you develop your project, you may start thinking of more and more things you want to do. If you check these ideas back to your aims, you can see if you are straying away from the purpose of what you are doing. Getting side tracked can dilute your energy and undermine the project’s success. Stay focused on your purpose.

B Sharp’s main aims are to

  • Offer young people in the Lyme Regis catchment area the opportunity to enjoy high quality arts and music activities.
  • Develop young people’s confidence and skills.


Your objectives are the results of practical things you do to achieve your aims.

E.g. if you want to celebrate a birthday (your aim) you could gather 20 friends together (one objective), have a party for 40 people with music on the Saturday nearest the birthday (another objective), or go out for a meal on the evening of the birthday with 10 friends (an alternative objective).

The objectives of an event are its goals – outcomes or targets that help to achieve its aims. Choosing the right objectives will help event organisers meet their aims.

One way of setting objectives is to follow SMART:

  • Specific – the objective should specify what you want to achieve and be focused upon the aims of the event
  • Measurable – you should be able to measure whether you are meeting the objectives or not
  • Achievable – the objective set must be achievable and attainable given the resource budget for the event
  • Realistic – the objective must be realistic given the resources used
  • Time – sufficient time should be allocated to achieve the objectives, in a timely manner

The objectives of an event vary depending on the nature of the event and what you hope to achieve.


The Woodroffe School uses the following example to show some SMART objectives: If you were organising an evening with the aim of helping local businesses learn from each other, some examples of SMART objectives might be

  • To have a suitable venue booked by 25th September
  • To have secured (by 15th October) three speakers from local companies to talk about their experiences of business planning
  • To publicise the evening, produce a programme and sell 100 tickets by 25th October

The Woodroffe School has produced a useful summary sheet on Event Planning. See event planning tips


Your mission is a short list of the key practical things you will do to achieve your aims but haven’t had SMART targets rigorously applied e.g.

B Sharp’s Mission:

  • To provide quality music activity for young people aged 11-25 years
  • To encourage young people to participate in music
  • To initiate and deliver music activity
  • To introduce young people to a broad spectrum of creative and hands on experience
  • To provide training support so that every young person has a chance to discover and make the most of their potential.

Mission Statement

A mission statement should be a short summary of your mission and what you do.

B Sharp’s mission statement is:

B Sharp works with young people for young people to improve their lives through music and art.

Your mission and mission statement are useful for marketing, branding and telling your story. They can be adapted to suit the media tool you use. A quick sound bite next to the logo on a B Sharp letterhead could be ‘Improving young people’s lives through music’.


As you start to think about the practicalities of how you’ll put your ideas into action, you’ll probably refine your vision of how it will turn out.

Initially, B Sharp had a very broad vision of organising different types of creative activities for young people to enjoy and take part in. After testing various art genres and finding music to be the most popular, B Sharp has refined its vision:

“That all children and young people living in Lyme Regis and its surrounding areas have heard of B Sharp and know that there is somewhere safe and supportive that they can go to create and play music with other young people, to learn new skills and to make friends.”

When you’ve listed your aims and objectives, you need to think about the actions you should do to make them happen and when to do them. Advice on this can be found in Actions and Timetabling.

To find the content 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.