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Creative industry must up-skill leaders

If the UK is to maintain its’ position as a world leader in creative industries, the learning and development of managers and leaders needs to be drastically improved, according to a research report published by the creative industries’ skills body, Creative Skillset, and Ashridge Business School.

The report Creativity and Constraint, leadership and management in the creative industries which you can read here paints a picture of unstructured learning environments, little time for training and development and a fairly widespread lack of understanding of the strategic goals of companies, especially in smaller enterprises and amongst freelance staff less able to access training. It highlights the need for support on leadership, strategy, innovation, financial and people management – and mentoring is cited as the preferred means of developing management skills.

Dr Amy Armstrong, of Ashridge Business School, who co–authored the report, said: “The huge success of the creative industries in the United Kingdom cannot be taken for granted despite the growth of the sector. We must ensure that the training and strategic leadership needs at the top of the industry is supported to maintain this fantastic success.” ‘Creativity and Constraint, leadership and management in the creative industries’looks at: The skills gaps and development needs of managers and leaders in the creative industries; What constitutes good practice for management and leadership in this sector; How managers and leaders in creative industries learn and therefore what kind of development interventions best suit them. The report, notes the growth and success of the UK’s creative sectors, but also the lack of key leadership and management skills for creative leaders, especially in small and micro companies.
There is also evidence of challenges for creative leaders to make the transition to successful entrepreneurs. Research was carried out via a literature review, an online survey and face to qualitative research with professionals across a wide variety of the creative industries in both large organisations and smaller enterprises. Now, both the Creative Skillset and the Ashridge Business School will build recommendations into a leadership and management strategy, including a series of support measures, mentoring support and creative case studies, giving examples of successful training models and collaborative experiential leadership development. These will be housed on Hiive, the Creative Skillset's network for creative people. Dr Kion Ahadi, Creative Skillset Head of Research and Evaluation, added: “This research flags the urgent need to provide creative leaders with the support they need to continue the huge success of our creative sector. Creative Skillset's leadership and management strategy will build on the findings of the report into solid recommendations which we hope will guide the industry and its’ leaders.”
 Participants in the research had this to say. “I found it very informative with some interesting facts. It certainly brings together the issues very well.” – Martyn Suker, Head of Production Innovation ITV Studios, ITV plc. “The results of the survey certainly reflect my personal observations over five years of running training and mentoring schemes for people at all stages of their career. There seems to come a crunch point at mid-career when people are experienced enough to step up into leadership roles but feel completely unprepared to do so… In terms of recruitment, there is a real issue with providing routes into the industry for people who have the practical skills, aptitude and potential to make a unique contribution to the industry, but who haven't been fortunate to come up through the university route.”- Nicola Lees, New Talent Development, Sara Putt Associates.

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