Leaders as Community Builders – Building community through working towards the bigger picture/ the greater whole.

Starting my working life with a decade as a Stage Manager, followed by a decade as a Career Change Mentor, a life changing sabbatical year in Australia in 1991 and a decade as a Coach and Management Consultant, in 2002 I founded the Pierian Centre in Bristol. I led the Pierian Centre for another decade, a social enterprise serving the wider community of Bristol (www.pieriancentre.com).

My life has given me experience in practical leadership, social entrepreneurship and community building skills. For the next decade, or more!, I would like to offer support to people looking to make a positive impact in their world.

As a leader, my endeavour is to facilitate the development of community in the workplace. The purpose of any organisation is the reason for its existence – an overarching purpose which becomes more important than individual ambition and which gets everyone working collaboratively for something more valuable than their personal gain.

We often hear of Leadership as being in service, or values-based and if we understand our workplaces as communities, then Leadership to bring that community together towards a common purpose becomes a specific type of leadership – influencing, guiding, demonstrating values and serving all to achieve the greater purpose. People take care of each other and encourage each other to do the best they can. Theatre (my first career) is a good example of this where everyone is working towards one thing – the show – and the show is always greater than the individuals – however famous they might be! The role of a leader is to create a successful community where everyone feels cared for, recognised for their contribution and proud of the achievement of the team. A good community sees after everyone in good and bad times, takes care of the individuals but also operates a discipline and an expectation of standards of behaviour and quality of work. Key to the way I work is to check in on systems to ensure that they serve the purpose of the organisation or individual, allowing people to excel, rather than controlling or limiting them. Leading by example, a community leader will hold to values and principles above all else but also maintain clarity on the purpose at all times. In the process of leadership comes that person’s own development and positive impact on the world around them.

Music And Arts

As an events director, Music and the Arts (including visual arts, writing, film, dance and performance) was core to our work running large scale community events with hundreds of participants and thousands of visitors. The Arts has a unique capacity to speak universally across boundaries, languages, nationalities and faiths. Through using the arts as a vehicle, we can give voice to the unheard and visibility to the unseen. In the Pierian Centre we worked with different communities in Bristol, many of them from other parts of the world. Within the footfall of 30,000 a year were over 60 different nationalities, a mixture of corporate clients using the conference facility alongside disadvantaged groups, health and wellbeing classes, weddings and civil partnerships, educational classes. The community we built was diverse, but all felt some sense of ownership and belonging – and this mainly came from an extensive arts programme.