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Sync 100: e-bulletin summer 09


Here comes Summer

photo of an ice cream cone held up to a car window. Outside the car it is raining.

Actually, where is the summer? Weren’t be promised a long, hot summer of barbeques and beer? Still, the drizzle makes it easier to sit at the computer…

This summer ebulletin will be the last in the current format. As part of Sync’s funding extension from the Cultural Leadership Programme, we are revamping the ebulletins and the website – so in September they will be refreshed and reinvigorated.

We particularly wanted to make sure the website made it easier to get to great content – articles, case studies, opinions – and we’ll be generating new stuff to compliment what we already have over the next 12 months. We are planning over the summer so if you can think of anything you’d particularly like us to cover – a new perspective, a key figure, a way of thinking – please let us know (email

That’s it for now

four jigsaw pieces each with a person in them - fitting into different places

So watch out in September for a reinvigorated ebulletin and check out the new website when it goes live, and contact us if you have any great ideas for people we should ‘case study’ or if you want Sync to come to your region.

Also watch out for other Leadership opportunities. You can sign up for Leadership Development Days or come along to the Lead On Open Space Disability Conference – find out more about these and many more opportunities on the Cultural Leadership Programme’s website (

You can also follow the link below to find out more about Sync’s dedicated programmes in the South East– one for disabled artists and artsworkers and one for disability arts organisations.

So whenever the rain stops play, there is still plenty to think about and do.

Enjoy the summer!

Jo Verrent and the rest of the Sync team

What else is new?

cartoon of a leader stick man on an arrow held by other stick men. He is pointing in the direction of the arrow.

In the Autumn and Spring we will be running some face to face sessions exploring leadership from a disability perspective – again, we’re busy planning where these should be in the country, so if you have ideas, please let us know.

We’ve been studying all the evaluation material we have too and can see that our intensive programme last year – Sync 20 – was of immense value for people.

Our extended funding means we will be able to run our intensive development programme again, offering face to face training and coaching for a dedicated number of people. And we are stepping up the pace: with support from the Cultural Leadership Programme and ACE, London we are also developing some Sync placements – real opportunities for people to stretch their wings in real situations.

We are also turning off Bascamp at the end of August and developing new, and better, forms of online communication alongside the new work.

More news on all of these in the Autumn.

What about now?

photo of Dave Anderson - head and shoulder shot, he is in a jacket, shirt and tie.

The weather may not be the only difficult thing about the summer for many people.

We know from many members of Sync that the financial crisis is starting to hit the arts sector hard, and difficult decisions are having to be taken in all quarters. So how do you deal with crisis? How as a leader are you expected to behave?

Surfing the net there are many articles available on leading through crisis. One particularly useful one is by Dave Anderson, an American writer and consultant on leadership.

We’ve summarized it below, and given you a weblink to get to the full article if you wish.

Leading through crisis

photo of a rope with a frayed section in the middle, hanging on by a thread

So how can you lead when it all seems to be falling down around you? How do you steer your way through the debris and minimize damage?

George S. Patton, a distinguished though controversial officer in the US army said: “It is nearly impossible to remain both aloof and effective. He was right – if we lock ourselves away behind closed doors in a crisis we can loose connection with those we lead.

There are three recognized ways of leading through crisis:

Lead from the front

Communicate, communicate, communicate – what people hate most in a crisis is feeing that things are being kept from them. Get out there, get with people, tell the truth and listen to what people are saying. Don’t hide in your office searching through data and writing reports.

Think big picture and communicate the vision

As a leader you have to face the brutal facts of reality but never lose faith that what you are trying to do will win through. Having a clear, strong vision enables people to see past setbacks and find ways through. Imagine trying to assemble a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle without being able to see the box lid. With no bigger picture—no vision—to keep you focused, inspired and persistent, doing the puzzle would quickly lose its meaning and you’d lose all motivation to continue. The same holds true when one becomes so overwhelmed by the pressures of a crisis – we need to see the bigger picture to keep on task and do what has to be done.

Seek wise counsel and use your team

In a crisis each team member is vital. You need a team who can offer good quality thoughts and opinions, who can face and tell the truth; a team that challenges each other, engages in debate without coercion, conducts autopsies without getting bogged down in blame and that unites behind decisions once they are made.

You can read Dave Anderson’s complete article here

What about how we feel?

two boxes like dice - one with smiley faces, one with sad faces

When there is a crisis, there is often high emotion. We might feel angry, sad, confused, guilty... Was there anything we could have done to have changed the outcome?

So what should we do about these emotions? Again, three suggestions:

Identify and direct your thoughts

It can be hard to do, but you can ‘think positively’. At the onset of a crisis, begin thinking about positive outcomes. And begin thinking how you can achieve those and help others start thinking positively too.

Listen to your body

Be aware of your body language. Think about what you want to show and what you want to keep under wraps for the moment. Keep on top of what you need to function. If you need rest – you have to rest. Find ways to support what you need in periods of calm – find out what helps you relax, what helps you sleep, what helps you focus – then draw on it when you need to.

Manage your behavior

Your emotions determine your behavior. A calm, collected and "in-control" perspective will show in your reaction to events as they unfold. They will also demonstrate to others your ability to lead. As you manage your emotions, people begin looking toward you for comfort and support. That goes a long way to maintaining morale among those affected by crisis and maintaining trust between stakeholders, the public and media.

The point is not to avoid your emotions. You need to address them for your own mental health. The point is much bigger. You can use them productively. Turn that anger into action; take out that frustration by putting energy into finding solutions.

Many of us have impairments that link to our mental health directly or indirectly. Of course this doesn’t mean we can’t lead through crisis. We can spend time preparing strategies in advance that will protect us if the bad times come. Work out what support you might need and where you can find it. The point is to be active not passive. So spend a bit of time this summer, activating your positive thinking.

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