Edited by Chris Bilton and Stephen Cummings
Chapter 13: Promoting ensemble: creative leadership in practice at the Royal Shakespeare Company
How do you direct innovation without stifling the emergent creativity of those that a creative organisation depends upon? At the same time, how do you lead change without undermining the things that people have grown to love about your organisationís identity? These two riddling questions must be faced by any leader of a creative organisation with any kind of tradition. The Royal Shakespeare Company may represent one of the worldís most extreme cases: an iconic global brand whose product is intertwined with the very identity of a nation, confronted in recent years by increasing external competition and internal change. Creative leadership in such a setting would be quite a challenge. In the final chapter of the leadership section of this book, we consider this extreme case of creative leadership in practice. The RSC is a cultural organisation as well as a creative one, and its leaders have taken the opportunity to connect the aesthetic culture of its products and production methods to the organisational culture of its people and processes. This connection was embodied in the partnership between the companyís artistic director, Michael Boyd, and the executive director, Vikki Heywood. Under their joint leadership, the company rejuvenated the principles of ëensembleí and spread it from the rehearsal room, to the organisation as a whole, and beyond this to the organisationís relationship with audiences.
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