The Dance of Leadership

Three Airmen participate in dog-sled expeditionMy biggest summer project is the design of two courses as part of the new Curb MA in Creative Enterprise and Cultural Leadership. The first of these, “Leadership in the Cultural and Creative Industries,” is a short one-credit course that introduces the students to the two concepts at the core of the program: 1) leadership and 2) cultural and creative industries. Choosing the right reading material for a course is always a challenge, but when it’s a course that isn’t even the tip of the iceberg but really just pointing the viewfinder to where you might find the iceberg, choosing the one best read is really hard. I have been asking colleagues, “Without thinking too much, off the top of your head, what’s your favorite book on leadership?” I got several good- and not unexpected – responses such as Collins’s Good to Great, Lencioni’s The Advantage, or Palmer’s Let Your Life Speak. Ultimately, I keep coming back to the book that would be my answer to that same question, Denhardt and Denhardt’s The Dance of Leadership.

dance of leadershipThere are number of reasons I like this book, including that the authors were colleagues here at ASU, Bob Denhardt leading the School of Public Affairs during the period when I was leading the School of Theatre and Film. More importantly relative to my new class, the Denhardts use artistic practice, and especially dance, as a way of explaining leadership concepts. Very often, when leadership is taught in/for the arts, a business leadership book (like those I mention above) is shoe-horned into the arts context. This book, however, will provide an entry point for students coming into the program with an arts background to understand leadership concepts and that the work that they do as artists is itself a form of leadership.

I think I’ve just talked myself into my decision….

(Air Force photo, by Tech. Sgt. Dan Rea, public domain)

On another matter….

PrintFor several years, I’ve offered my observations of the (too many) academic conferences I attend. At the most recent, the Association of Arts Administration Educators, where I presented on both arts entrepreneurship and, on behalf of Artivate: A Journal of Entrepreneurship in the Arts, readying one’s research for publication, I was elected to the organization’s board of directors. Because I don’t want to appear to have any conflict of interest between my board position and anything I might write here, I will no longer be offering up these conference “reviews” on Creative Infrastructure.


About lindaessig

Linda Essig is Dean of the College of Arts & Letters at Cal State LA and principal/owner of Creative Infrastructure LLC. The opinions expressed on creativeinfrastructure are her own and not those of Cal State LA. You can follow her on twitter @LindaInPhoenix.
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2 Responses to The Dance of Leadership

  1. Pingback: Leadership Axioms from Jim Ed Norman | Creative Infrastructure

  2. Pingback: Do What Loves | Creative Infrastructure

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