A Quiet Leader by Dame Jenny Gibbs

In New Zealand, Leadership Week takes place from June 22th – 29th whereby many events across the nation are hosted – in schools, communities and corporate sectors – which focus on New Zealand peoples’ dreams and visions for the future. Leadership Week is an annual event for all ages that highlights the value that great leadership provides for New Zealand.

The PACIFICA Women of Influence – Dare to Dream event was organised by Auckland Central Branch President, Sina Wendt-Moore and the Auckland Central Branch team to mark the Sir Peter Blake Leadership week (read more about it HERE).  I would like to thank Sina Wendt-Moore for her inspirational leadership within PACIFICA. The PACIFICA Women of Influence event last week left many guests completely inspired and the same inspiration was felt by those who were not able to make it to the event but had read the various articles that were published about that wonderful evening. The attendees of the PACIFICA Women of Influence – Dare to Dream event received Issue 5, 2012 of the Leadership Magazine produced by the Sir Peter Blake Trust.  Since last Thursday, I have been sick with the flu and it was only yesterday that I finally managed to read through the Leadership magazine. This edition profiles great Kiwi (i.e. New Zealanders) thinkers and leaders of all ages who have had the courage to explore the possibilities and act on their dreams. The stories shared in this magazine are inspirational!

With a couple more days left to celebrate Leadership Week here in New Zealand, I would like to share excerpts from one of the articles that was featured in the Sir Peter Blake Trust Leadership Magazine. I hope that this serves as an encouragement to you. I have come to recognise that some of my readers have a background or interest in the creative arts and this article highlights the leadership that exists within that discipline. The article was written by Dame Jenny Gibbs entitled A Quiet Leader.

Dame Jenny Gibbs is a philanthropist, an art patron and a member of the Sir Peter Blake Leadership Awards Selection Panel. Her opening statement caught my attention: “There are many forms of leadership. And some of the characteristics that we most commonly associate with leadership, such as the ability to build and lead a team, are not always applicable in the arts”.  As I continued to read through the article I understood exactly what she had meant. She explained that there are of course areas within the creative arts where leadership is essential, for example, the formal role of a director of a major museum or art gallery. However, she delved into the more solitary pursuit that artists, writers, poets, composers, performers take in order to “dare to dream”. She stated: “I think this takes a special sort of courage and commitement – in fact in some cases an almost obsessional determination to pursue the dream. I have quite often asked leaders in the creative arts why they chose such a difficult path. Almost invariably they answer that they had no choice – that they were driven to do what they do regardless of the obstacles and difficulties, regardless of lack of monetary reward or recognition.”  That particular statement made me smile as I have seen many people in the creative arts industry tirelessly crafting their gifts and talents and not because monetary rewards or recognition are the incentive(s) (don’t get me wrong, both are great!) but they do so because of their sheer passion. According to Dame Jenny Gibbs, creative leadership exists “in a field where the odds are stacked against you, where rewards and recognition often are elusive in spite of both talent and hard work”.

Dame Jenny Gibbs described how people within the creative arts “frequently display an equivalent focus, determination and courage, to that required to climb a mountain, create a business or sail the oceans” which is an encouraging analogy particularly for myself and my passion for poetry.  Much like my Tongan ancestors, poetry for me acts as the vessel by which stories are passed down from one generation to the next through oral traditions. Reading Dame Jenny Gibbs’ article made me reflect and appreciate the ongoing support and encouragement that I receive from the leaders in my family, in my circle of friends, in my place of study and in my community. She concluded her article by saying “leadership is often not obvious or noisy, but is all around us”. When your creative work positively inspires others to follow or lead in their field of interest, then YOU my friend, are a leader!

Dame Jenny Gibbs’ concluding statement reminded of this quote by Mahatma Gandhi:

Visit the Sir Peter Blake Trust website: www.sirpeterblaketrust.org

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