Leadership in Lille

Report on the HR forum meeting in Lille 4-6 October 2018

On 4, 5 and 6 October this year, the Human Resources Forum gathered at Opéra de Lille to discuss the topic of leadership.
To introduce the group to that theme, Isabelle Jonckheer (La Monnaie / De Munt), Maurizio Boschini (Teatro Comunale di Bologna) and Petra Kron Forsling (Royal Swedish Opera) presented very different leadership training initiatives in their respective houses that were used to increase the wellbeing of the staff. 

On the night of 4 October, the participants were invited by the Opéra de Lille to the poetic première of Händel’s Rodelinda conducted by Emmanuelle Haïm and directed by Jean Bellorini. 

On Friday morning the group received some input from Gabriel Morin, Doctor in Management Sciences, to activate a reflection on the difference between leadership and management. He argued that management is about education and coordination but not about change; whereas a leader changes the world with innovation, risks and creating value.  Leadership is a living and connecting process, which creates followers.  ‘If everyone is thinking the same thing, then no one is thinking’!  Dr. Morin wanted to demystify the relationship between artist and audience.  He demonstrated how a leader exhibits potency rather than power or domination.

A few common problems appeared during the sessions of Friday and Saturday. The group agreed on the crucial role of the HR department in times of internal crisis, as shown by two case studies: one presented by Inna Fedorova (Mikhailovsky Opera St. Petersburg) and the other by Hanna Fontana (Finnish National Opera and Ballet).  Another growing topic presented by Steve Foulston (Royal Opera House) was the increasing Sound issues and hearing problems in orchestras that have consequences on the musicians’ working rights.  It was agreed that this was a topic which ought to be shared with the Artistic Administration group at a future joint meeting.

Considering the evolution of the issues inside the theatres but also taking into account the external conditions (Brexit, moving work force), the HR Forum is planning to discuss the future of work in Opera Houses at its next meeting which will take place during the Spring Conference at the end of April.