Leadership Axioms from Jim Ed Norman

jim_ed_norman_conductingWhat a treat! Our guest this week in “Leadership in the Creative and Cultural Industries” was Jim Ed Norman: musician, arranger, producer, former president of Warner Records Nashville and, after coming out of retirement three years ago, CEO of Curb Records Group. Jim Ed is quick to point out that his CEO position is Chief Excitement Officer. It was fitting that after the students read a chapter on improvisation in leadership in Denhardt and Denhardt’s The Dance of Leadership, that Jim Ed identified one of the most important creative leadership skills as “be quiet and listen.” Any jazz musician knows that listening is key to improvisation. Listening – especially the kind of empathic listening that is foundational to design thinking – has been a through-line in the course. The key to being effective as a listener is, according to Jim Ed, to understand how to arrange what you’ve heard. Although the in-class conversation was casual and unrehearsed, a few key phrases jumped out that sound, only in retrospect, like leadership axioms. I suggest heeding them:

  • Learn humility
  • Allow people to fail gracefully
  • Retain your inner child
  • It’s fair to be skeptical, but don’t become cynical
  • Get comfortable with being wrong
  • Maintain camaraderie
  • Respond to the world as it really is not the way you want it to be.

(photo by Keith Nealy, public domain)

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.
This entry was posted in Arts education, Higher education, Institutional Infrastructure, Personal infrastructure. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s