Farooq Chaudhry’s vision of future cultural leaders

Farooq is Producer of Akram Khan Company and Chair of Dance UK and was previously a member of the Strategic Advisory Committee of Clore Leadership.

Leaders are defined by the context in which they live. They reflect back the contradictions, constraints, challenges and opportunities of their times to the people with which they work. Together they aspire to transform, protect and grow their company’s vision to take them to a better place and to give them a competitive edge. Underpinned by a plethora of intangible resources such as passion, hard work, fearlessness, integrity, curiosity, generosity and entrepreneurialism they either succeed or fail. Through both they learn in equal measure. This is no different in the arts as any other industry.

The modern world is elusive. It changes as quick as a flash. Communication and proximity with and to others is so close that the boundaries of human exchange are so blurred and ephemeral. Therefore the old adage of staying ahead of the game no longer applies in the way we knew it. 

Future leader needs to be fluid, adaptable, flexible, resilient and creative like never before. They have to balance excellent forward planning and strategy with strong improvisational instincts. They also have to balance control with the ability to listen to what they are doing so it will tell them what to do next. 

Yet as soon as they’ve got it right they have to be prepared to dismantle all they know and reconstruct it. 

Organisations in the future will have to be ‘bamboo’ businesses. Flexible, fast growing, impossible to break, and have space in its core for new ideas. They will need ‘bamboo’ leaders who create bamboo cultures in rich fertile soil with plenty of sun and rain. This is my vision of the future leader and the more we have the better our arts and culture will be. Of this I’m sure. 

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