Funny old things gangs and cliques. I’ve never really been too keen. At school I had an Attenborough'esque fascination and watched them intently. To be funny and quick with a quip was a gift to the group, to land an argument well and swiftly with a cutting edge was also valued. The gigglers had their place, ensuring that their leader knew how much they were enjoyed. You also needed the outsiders to aim at, to ensure they knew their place.
You are not in our gang. We are.
Us and them. No room for we.
But who are ‘they’ in relation to me?
They or those who spend a lot of time shoring up their egos, manoeuvring their positions, ensuring they are not outside of the circle.
I have been in gangs of two, three and a few more. It’s intense. You share your values, you take on the world from where you are, you take action. I value the learning from that. I never knowingly exclude anyone but racists, bullies. Those who abuse their power aren’t welcome either.
My husband loves the phrase ‘never join a gang that would have you’. It makes me laugh.
To be a leader you need followers. You usually have something they want. Cool, beauty, brains, talent. People want to be associated with all of this of course.
Here’s one of the things I know about myself. I’ve been outside so long I like this place, I love the people I find here. I have made it my home and feel odd on the inside. Like a rebel leader taking her seat and viewing the customs and language of a people she’s trying to trust for the benefit of a lasting peace.
Once inside, abuses of power may be witnessed and observed or heard about. When a leader observed chooses to bully, be unkind, use their position to take a swipe at those choosing another path and the followers don’t question - or worse still believe, repeat and laugh - then where does that leave us? In a place where behaviours go unquestioned, where fear and disrespect are left to grow.
Throughout the year, when the opportunity arises, I gather groups of creatives and lead adventures. I join leadership teams and share my learning in a number of ways. The opportunity of being a Change Maker has given me a platform to collate a cultural map of Leadership across our nation and my own place in it. I see underused talent, game playing and brinkmanship. I hear gobbledegook speak and I register that nervous laughter in rooms where everyone is trying to work out their positions.
I’ve recently enjoyed hearing versions of an event that, if I hadn’t have attended myself, would have either believed that:
- A) It was a ground-breaking success.
- B) Was the worst excuse of an event that ever happened in the history of events.
This is why it’s important to ask all involved what their experience was. You often get some very surprising results.
My journey in leadership has been to feel at home on the inside as much as I do on the outside. To encourage those who feel excluded, to navigate the imbalance of power and share their talent and skills, sometimes travelling from different pathways and having to prove themselves twice as much for half as little - but doing it anyway.
I’m not talking about physical buildings versus independents. I’m talking about the Theatre industry as a whole, including the social media and online press that feeds what we think we know. Who is in who is out? Who studied where? Who smashed it here? A hungry mob ready to crown whoever will give them the next role, be that Artistic Director or next Actors gig.
Whilst the mob cheers them on, you’ll find me doing my job - making Theatre and trying to make a difference whilst checking, looking and listening out for who is not there and asking the question why...?
But even rebel leaders need rest and I’ll be enjoying my time with my crew.
Happy Christmas to all who celebrate and wishing a peaceful holiday to all.