Early this year I was very pleased to be offered a place on a new programme for emerging leaders within the museums sector offered by KulturAgenda – Young Leaders: European Museum Leadership Programme. It took place in Munich in the last week of November and was a three and a half day residential programme hosted at the Deutches Museum in Kerschensteiner Kolleg.
One of the attractions of the programme for me was that it was aimed at the European Community, unlike many of the courses available in the UK which focus on UK or English speaking markets. I was looking forward to engaging with colleagues with very different perspectives on museums and their work. I was not disappointed as the cohort comprised colleagues from the UK, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Portugal, Slovenia, Liechtenstein and Hungary. They brought a wealth and diversity of experience that really helped me to question my own assumptions. They were also all a lot of fun…
The programme was facilitated by Christian Waltl, the Director of KulturAgenda, with the assistance of his colleague Renate Goebl. Christian also squeezed into the agenda an evening of wine tasting of organic Austrian wine, sharing his own passion (he has a small vineyard). This, and other fringe events were a core part of the programme, really encouraging the cohort to bond, and discuss the themes and provocations from the day in a completely different way. There was also quite a bit of excellent German food and drink!
We were joined by several speakers over the course of the programme, all sharing different perspectives on leadership and provoking different responses. One highlight was an opportunity to look around the Deutches Museum’s Anthropocene exhibition and then speak to the curators about what they were trying to achieve. I am not entirely sure they achieved all their loft ambitions in the execution of the exhibition, but I am now fascinated by the idea of the Anthropocene – the idea that humankind has had such an influence on the planet that we are now living in a distinct geological period of our own creation.
Delivery of the main content of the programme came form Marilyn Scott, the Director of the Lightbox in Woking and Jeff Beeson, a leadership expert with Entheos. It is difficult to share everything that happened – and for that you have to go on the course! For me the main take away was an increased level of self awareness. In particular awareness of my own assumptions, biases and behaviours that may prevent me from seeing the bigger picture. Awareness of my own behaviour and the impact it has on others, and knowing how I can adjust myself to have a more positive impact – a particular message for me was around being present with engaging with people, and not moving onto to the next thing in my mind, or assuming I know what they are saying without really listening.
There was so much more which I am still trying to take in, understand, and work into my approach to leadership.
At the end of the programme I managed to squeeze a few extra days in Munich, and was fortunate to be there with the husband during the first weekend of the Christmas Market – and it even snowed. Ready for a white Christmas and then to face the challenge of finding myself as a leader in 2016.