Former ENO chief Mark Wigglesworth, promoting his new book:
… a collegiate and humble approach to leadership is that which performers appreciate the most, and is ultimately the most successful. The best conductors, just like the best theatre directors, achieve what they do through a natural authority that doesn’t need a contract or a podium to assert itself. Their power comes from a trust in those they work with, an openness to what they hear, and a willingness to respond to that without loss of face.
This respect is then reciprocated, creating a virtuous circle that allows everyone to give their all. In both music and drama I believe the subtle approach travels the furthest.
This form of leadership is at odds with our times. In political circles at least, views have to be extreme to be heard. Self-centred appears strong. Loud is good. The nuanced view struggles for air(time) and the most popular leaders are the ones who shout the most. Whether they have vision is considered to be secondary. People seem comforted by dogma.
Music and drama, on the other hand, show that collaborative leadership works. It actually works very well. I am not suggesting that our finest conductors and directors should run the country, but I think they provide evidence that this form of leadership is not a utopian impossibility. People are happy to be led by a leader who is not too proud to follow.
Read on here.