The Office for Leadership Transition work with Boards and Executive Directors to transition their leadership teams and create inclusive change
We are committed to helping cultural leaders to enable a proactive, dynamic and supported transformation of representation at the tops of their cultural organisations to better reflect the audiences and communities that they exist to serve. We recognise that different organisations have different views on the urgency and ease of leadership change and the Office for Leadership Transition’s portfolio approach is designed to reflect that.
With industry and sector experts we have created a series of support packages and interventions, tools, resources, and peer programmes to help organisations re-model their leadership, engage in a transition process, advocate for inclusive change and a re-distribution of cultural leadership. This is an affordable change model that values diversity and inclusion based on a fixed rate fee and tailored to your specific scenarios.
We are sensitive in our approach; enabling transition readiness with care, integrity, and fuelled by collaboration. We will work with leadership teams to create the conditions for systemic conversations – questioning, reflecting, learning – providing safe spaces for leaders and trustees to challenge prevalent ideas and beliefs, shift from declaring good intentions to concrete plans and developments that are grounded in reality, linked to diarised specificity, supported with resources to ensure positive momentum and impact.
To contact us about the programme please complete the form below
Resources to download and use
Last year when the Office for Leadership Transition was asked to support East Street Arts plan for the departure of one of its co-founders, we were surprised to discover a lack of information about the topic of success: how to plan and manage it well. Therefore we interviewed over 20 people with experience of succession planning either as founders, their successors or their Chairs. We were surprised at the consistency of their advice. So we decided to make their wisdom available more widely through two free guides we’ve published – one designed for Trustees, the other for founders.
Letting go can be incredibly hard for the founder, so providing support for them is essential, a role usually fulfilled by the Chair. Outgoing leaders may also benefit from an external mentor or coach to support them to think through their next steps and how they want to approach handover. Founders varied enormously in how they wanted to mark their departure – some enjoyed the recognition of a huge party, others wanted to slip away quietly, so it’s important to discuss their preferences.
Succession is an opportunity to reimagine an organisation for its next phase, but leading the transition takes care for the people involved, and clarity about boundaries, the organisation’s needs and purpose – as one interviewee advised: ‘Boards needs to be careful to respect the founder without tying the hands of the new Director and harking back to how things used to be done. They need to be clear about the values – the things that can’t change, any non-negotiables – but then make sure the incoming leader has authority to change things’.
It’s a difficult balance to strike and it can be a challenging time for the Chair who is responsible for leading this transition. We hope the two guides we’ve written will be helpful for those Trustees and leaders preparing for this change.
Sandeep Mahal MBE and Dr Claire Antrobus
Simply click on the report above to get a free download
Events & Updates
The cultural sector has shown a huge appetite for investing in and increasing diversity, but systemic issues of inequality and intolerable barriers to progression remain. To support a dynamic transformation of representation at senior levels, this event will unpack and explore ways that co-leadership models can enable and embed inclusive leadership within cultural organisations.
Chaired by Sandeep Mahal, Director of Sector Change at people make it work, in this webinar leadership coach and consultant Dr Claire Antrobus presents her AHRC/Clore-funded research, Co-leadership: an opportunity for the UK cultural sector to increase leadership diversity and impact (2023), focusing on how adapting leadership models is leading to change who takes up and is appointed to senior roles in the cultural sector. The findings draw on existing research into co-leadership and diversity from a range of sectors internationally including healthcare, higher education, non-profits and business, as well as presenting new research gathered from a survey and over forty interviews with sector specialists, current leaders and trustees undertaken in autumn 2022. The report also includes 11 case studies of co-leadership in practice, sharing stories of how these models emerged, how the work and the benefits and challenges of working in this way.
Guest panellists included:
Anna Herrmann, Artistic Director & Joint CEO, Clean Break
Euella Jackson, Co-Director, Rising Arts
Niels de Vos, Chair, Birmingham Museum Trust
Parminder Dosanjh, Co-Director, Creative Black Country
Sajida Carr, Co-Director, Creative Black Country
Watch the webinar here.
Imagine the scenario
I want to re-distribute power and review our management structures, but need restructure support, templates, models and guidelines.
I am moving aside and making way for new leadership perspectives, but need a clear roadmap for enabling that and a set of resources to support a proactive transition.
Succession through development
I am looking for support to develop a new talent pipeline for the next generation of cultural leaders as part of a place-based partnership consortium that creates opportunities for-under represented voices and equips people for leadership.
I want to experiment and take a risk with a more dispersed model of leadership, empowering more people within the organisation and restructuring how decisions are made and with/by whom
Supporting organisations that want to re-centre creative power around artist voices and insights.
Supporting boards that have decided that change needs to happen at a leadership level in order for the mission to be delivered, and need additional guidance and road mapping to implement their intentions.