Blog Posts for Leadership

Generation Y and the Problem of “Entitlement”: A Bullet-Point Manifesto

Posted by Mr. Ian David Moss, Oct 19, 2009 23 comments

(Note: I was inspired to experiment with this form by a guest post on Sean Stannard-Stockton’s Tactical Philanthropy blog by Nonprofit Finance Fund Capital Partners founder George Overholser. I hope you enjoy it.)

  • An oft-heard complaint about Generation Y (and other “emerging leaders”) is that they have a sense of entitlement—that they think they are smarter than everyone else.
  • I don’t believe that people in Generation Y are any smarter than generations that came before.
  • HOWEVER, here’s something I do believe:
    • The people in Generation Y that YOU DEAL WITH in YOUR OFFICE are very likely smarter than the people who would have been in that office in earlier generations.
    • Which means that they may well be smarter than YOU!
  • The secret power of Generation Y is not that we’re smarter: it is that we are MORE
    • More numerous: the population of the world is 6.7 billion, 81% higher than it was in 1970.
    • More highly educated: 29% of Americans age 25 and older have bachelor’s degrees now, compared to 11% in 1970.
    • More professional: Nearly one-third of employed Americans work in the so-called “creative class” (i.e., white-collar professions), compared to about a fifth in 1970.
    • More egalitarian: the percentage of women in the workplace has shot up both domestically (from 43% to 59% between 1970 and 2006) and internationally, and racial barriers to employment have lessened significantly.
    • More ambitious: The number of high-quality colleges that offer meaningful financial aid has exploded; many more scholarships exist for talented low-income individuals.
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A Message to All Leaders in the Arts

Posted by Jessica Guzman, Oct 19, 2009 4 comments

Veteran Leaders  - You were once just as we are now: in the early stages of your career, eager to make a difference, and to build our professional standing while improving the landscape of the American arts.  You may have been afraid to say "no" to mounting tasks and projects, but persevered till each and every project was accomplished.  You learned on the job by doing your job, and you were inspired by supervisors who were often older than you.  You were motivated to prove yourself.

We too are now in those early, exciting years of the professional realm which becomes a substantial and meaningful part of our lives.  The discussion of age-bias in the field is not an argument in a "young vs. old" or "entry level vs. experienced".  As a young administrator in the arts, I do not feel that the topic is necessarily a recent issue, but rather one that you yourselves dealt with as well.  I believe the Emerging Leaders Network , 20UNDER40, and other, similar forums strive to openly discuss the challenges we face as rising arts administrators so that even younger generations may more easily navigate their entry into and relationships within the field of arts administration, and we as their future supervisors do not perpetuate age bias, which seems to be a recurring issue.

Novice leaders  have heard that some administrators of older generations are offended by groups such as Emerging Arts Leaders and 20UNDER40.  Edward Clapp of 20UNDER40 says he has received complaints from experienced leaders citing the project "ageist," " exclusionary," and "dangerous." (See Clapp's earlier blog post)  Dangerous?  Why is it dangerous to have a discussion of current issues facing the arts sector and their leaders today?  I do not believe the issue of age is a dangerous topic with the potential to destroy all that has been achieved. 

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An Emerging Leader Career Trajectory

Posted by Mitch Menchaca, Oct 19, 2009 2 comments

I wanted to quit my job and leave the arts four years ago!

This year, I will celebrate my 10th anniversary as an arts and culture administrator.  (I always make sure to include culture, as I started my career working for my local history museum.)  Even with moving to different positions and organizations, it would not faze me until 2005 that I was on a career path and part of a larger global community of colleagues.

My career trajectory included working for the museum for three years, moving to the state humanities council, then to being a presenter, to finally coming to the state arts commission.  During most of that timeframe, I was living in my hometown, a small rural community in between Phoenix and Tucson.  However, I did move to Phoenix for the state job.

After less than a year working for the arts commission, I wasn’t happy. There was something missing from my personal life that was making my professional life uneven.  After months of deliberation I came to the conclusion that I was missing the community feel from my hometown and I needed to find a job in Casa Grande and move back.  Since art or museums jobs are scarce, I probably would have to find something out of the cultural sector.

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We Sustain Each Other in Rougher Times

Posted by John Abodeely, Oct 19, 2009 1 comment

It’s a pleasure to be a part of such a great group of folks, discussing such a fascinating (and sometimes polarizing) subject. My name is John and I’m a program manager at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. I work in National Partnerships, serving the national network of state Alliances for Arts Education. I also help to dissemination the Kennedy Center’s suite of teaching artist training programs in arts integration, residency planning, and other areas.

The topic of emerging leadership is near to my professional heart. One of the reasons I stayed in the arts was the network of peers I quickly built from my first job in arts administration. I was working for the Washington State Arts Alliance in Seattle, WA and my boss suggested I get involved with the Emerging Leader Network of Americans for the Arts. I went to a conference, found kindred spirits, and made sure to get to every Americans for the Arts conference until I was honored to be elected to the Emerging Leader Council itself. From there, Americans for the Arts hired me and I moved to DC.

Without that network, I would not have developed the interpersonal connections that solidified my commitment to this field. Were it not for the colleagues and friends—those with whom I had frank and easy conversations, shared language, shared even a style of clothing—I would have easily departed the field for another type of job. We were compatriots, battling scarce funding, personnel challenges, and other issues that weighed on us, professionally. I’m sure this experience is common to any generation or group of any kind. Like likes like. But more than that, we sustain each other in rougher times. These connections do not preclude nor devalue connections made across our differences.

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Emerging Leader – An identification Crisis

Posted by Ruby Lopez Harper, Oct 19, 2009 1 comment

When my manager at the time approached me about applying to be an Emerging Leader Council member, my first thought was “Why?”.  I was a coordinator at the city arts council; what in heaven's name could I possibly bring to the table?  And what is an Emerging Leader?  Well, her answer was simple: “What is your title at the theatre?,” referring to the community theatre where I volunteer.  I responded “President of the Board of Trustees, why?” “That makes you a leader.” I had to really think about that – and not just that, but the fact that I enjoyed organizing folks and helping people make connections. That I was active on the state level in support of community theatre.  That I was an active member of the artistic community and people (for whatever reason) listened to and spoke with ME about stuff – challenges in their theatres, needs in their community, finding people to fill positions… It was like a whole new world opened up, and I was suddenly looking at myself with new eyes. I never considered myself a leader; I think most “leaders” don’t.  They do what they do because they can’t do things any other way.  It’s intrinsic, base. Pre-programmed and hard-wired.  And that is the challenge of perpetuating a concept of the "Emerging Leader". How do you convert people who just are "leaders" into Leaders who identify themselves by that title and recognize who they are and what they bring to the greater community? 

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What, Me Lead?

Posted by Bridget Matros, Oct 19, 2009 3 comments

I was always pegged as a “leader.” They pick them in high school. Or so it seems. And from treatment as such, you get to do wonderful things. Then you float around in the real world for a bit, working two jobs to pay rent while figuring out what you want to do with your life, and you are no longer a leader. You are a shmoe like everyone else.  After that hiatus, someone at a reputable college sees from your records that you were a Leader, so of course, they invite you to attend, for further grooming. And you learn Leadership Skills (can’t think of any offhand), get to do wonderful things (like go to school for free), and in return, in all your wisdom, you Train Leaders before another stint as jobless shmoe.

Yes, I actually taught a course for the other first-generation, low-income well-doer Leader-types on leadership in community service. Seeing upper-class white kids invade the local community with their conceptual ideals and clumsy ignorance was like nails on a chalkboard to me, so I mostly focused on what NOT to do, which I hear is a poor way to Lead. Still, the people in the community were sad that I was leaving town after graduation (or perhaps scared). Come to think of it, I even interned for several years at an organization called “Grassroots Leadership Development.” They trained Leaders. I had a fancy well-paid fellowship in what was to be “my field” – public school reform. I was always wary of what these investors expected from me, from high school onward, hoping to be across the country when I’ve failed to be the Leader they expected.

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