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  • Julie Lavergne

True leadership is an art in itself

During confinement and this difficult moment, I have been able to focus and analyze many components in my life. One of these components is leadership. Why? Because I think that the actual situation requires thoughts on how to motivate, reassure, give confidence, comfort, encourage and soothe the difficult moments the artistic community is going through. Life comes with its load of obstacles and challenges but this pandemic is not a just challenge, it is probably THE most difficult challenge the artistic community has had in past decades. So, while taking care of my beloved family, I took time to analyze my own pain, my fears, and my community’s distress. At that point, as a teacher, an artist and a consultant in the artistic field I thought to myself, what a wonderful moment to share faith and eagerness instead of anxiety and discouragement. Everyone in an organization that is troubled by the pandemic instinctively rely on their team members, but above all, on their leader.

With this in mind during the confinement, I was conceiving my new web site and developing new workshops for the artistic community and I was suddenly inspired to write this article about leadership as it is one of the topics I will be adding in my special trainings. I have been witnessing lots of different forms of leadership around me and I have been analyzing why, during this tough time, some work teams were thriving and flourishing while on the other hand, other work teams were reverting to an inferior condition and their motivation was collapsing. The answer is very simple, it all came from a good or a bad influence! By curiosity and by interest, I discreetly made many observations in different artistic (and non-artistic) establishments to see how the people in place were dealing with this very difficult situation.

On one hand, leaders in place called upon their colleagues to review the situation, think about the options, and decide of a plan altogether. Priority was given to consultation, discussion, sharing opinions and finding a collective conclusion. On the other hand, superiors made decisions of their own based on fear and panic. Any good leader knows how to deal with every situation without batting an eyelid. Although, this does not prevent him from feeling a panic equal to the one felt by any other person, but as a leader he will not act on that panic. In contrast, the faltering leader cannot remain calm, and is often ready to abuse, however subtly, those who work alongside him.

I saw good leaders setting themselves an example in front of their team, by adopting behaviors worthy of their position. Weak leaders will shout or run away when someone disapprove because they fear confrontation. At the moment, the pandemic is confronting us by creating anxiety related to the future of our art, our passion, our career but above all, our lifestyle. Therefore, I advocate that people should think and gather before acting to fast. While true leaders are acting in confidence, weak leaders are allowing a climate of fear to flourish. Presently, fear is already enough present in our lives. Why should we add more?

Good leaders do not allow themselves to be humiliated by a member of the team, which is fair I think. However, he also does he allow anyone around him to be humiliated. You don't have to yell, intimidate, or make sneering comments when you're running an establishment. The actual situation is already creating panic and emotional confusion in our community, so on the contrary, the encouragement of employees and the appreciation of their qualities is absolutely required. During my observations, the ones who gathered around their positive and attentive leader during and after the confinement saw some of their projects emerge and their motivation started to rise again. The leader who uses threats or minimize or even ignore the good work of the team members is just showing his own weakness. According to many magazines, articles and reviews specialized in good leadership, the need to show power over others characterizes a vulnerable leader instead of portraying his authority. The leader knows the importance of establishing a climate of trust and real collaboration in the company; the wobbly leader will prefer to weave an environment where competition and ruling prevails, in order to feed his need for control. The only power an unstable or poor leader has is the job title given to him.

“A true leader could be designated as such with or without the job label.”

The above text is based on my observations and experience, but also based on some researches and educational documents written by experts in schools, universities and enterprises. Forbes magazine article: “9 characteristics that pit the true leader against the deprived leader” was one of my favorites from which I took some quotes since my observations were absolutely resembling to the ones written in this article.

In conclusion, I would like to address that this post was written in order to encourage the community to become leaders of their own. Circus art, like any other art, is temporarily in danger. Although, art and creativity have always been present in the lives of human beings and it shall not disappear because of a virus. Art has the ability to consolidate mankind and therefore we should unite around positive and true leaders. The dilemma whether true leader skills can be acquired is complicated. Of course, if you are born with proper abilities, this will make it easier for you. On the other hand, one can reach nearly anything with proper development and motivation. Therefore, the first step towards true leadership can surely be taken if you are able to recognize your own flaws, work on ways to improve your leadership and if necessary work alongside a role model.