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Taking the Reins


It was with excitement and anticipation this morning that I awaited the announcement of the new Artistic Director of the National Theatre. What a job! The National Theatre is at the top of its game – much Apple, Google, and other major organisations in their own field.

So how DO you go about finding a worthy successor for someone who has been a strong leader that has upheld the value of British theatre while at the same time being innovative and motivational to the future generation. Nicholas Hytner will be a hard act to follow. As would any inspirational leader in a large, successful organisation.

In pondering over my cup of tea this morning, I decided that the new leader would have to demonstrate the following three things:

  1. Common values – taking over a happy ship is tough.The new person needs to respect the status quo to enable stability while bringing in their own ideas.
  2. An acknowledged track record – credibility is everything.The organisation needs to believe that the incoming leader can do the job required.
  3. Have a vision – the creativity to do something different and generate excitement for the potential of the future.

I wrote them down on my desk jotter, and waited.

So ... Rufus Norris it is – and the Chairman of the National Theatre, said :

“In setting out to find a new Director for the National Theatre, the Board looked for

  • an individual with a creative reputation that would command the respect and support of British theatre (acknowledged track record),
  • and with the generosity of spirit that has characterised Nick Hytner’s period as Director (common values). Rufus Norris has both those qualities in abundance.
  • He is an exciting choice, someone who will build on the National Theatre’s present reputation as one of the most admired and innovative performing arts organisations in the world (a vision).

We are fortunate that he has chosen to join us.”

Good advice for leadership succession planning for all of us – even if I did say so myself!