A highly experienced music industry and events professional, Remi Harris MBE is a passionate advocate for diversity in the industry. She says the Music Leaders Network, a leadership programme for women in music, is increasing the confidence and effectiveness of women leaders including agents, promoters, festival directors and tour managers

What type of person makes a good leader in your opinion? Are they the type who can give orders on site? The one who looks after everyone in the team and makes sure they’ve all eaten and phoned home? The detail person who’s on top of the budgets and schedules? Or the one who gives the inspirational talk before a show and rallies the crew?

Do you recognise any of these types of leaders? Well, over the past two years we’ve run a leadership development programme for 25 women in music – we’ve seen all of these types, and here’s what we’ve learned.

I am the co-founder of the Music Leaders Network, a transformational leadership development programme for mid-career women in music. Our network members included live events managers, festival directors, tour managers, communications execs, artists and producers.

Our philosophy is that leaders come in many shapes and sizes, and it’s not only she who shouts loudest that can lead. In fact, all personality types can be effective leaders given the space to develop their leadership identity and learn how to lead as themselves. We worked with leaders to help them understand their own style and strengths, learn about the theory and practice of leadership and receive individual coaching and support from a group of their peers.

We learned that people who took part increased their confidence. They reported being more effective at work. Quite a few people reported increased income, of up to 100%. That’s a sign that they are delivering more, and clients and employers are willing to pay for it – or they were being underpaid relative to their business value. We saw people move to the next level in their career, taking leaps forward in their roles or commanding bigger and better freelance positions.

We also learned that, in line with the conversation that the live events sector had about wellbeing and values during the pandemic, they were working in a different way – standing up for crew mental health, championing sustainability and starting to put limits and boundaries around work – while also still delivering great commercial results.

“We all want our leaders to be bold, brave, emotionally intelligent and kind – inspiring, influencing and changing the culture in the industry.”

We all want our leaders to be bold, brave, emotionally intelligent and kind – inspiring, influencing and changing the culture in the industry.

You can’t do that without knowing yourself, being authentic and understanding others, having a great network and having a bigger perspective on the industry beyond being good at your technical role. This is something that investing in leadership development can deliver.

And as for where to find great leaders? Look at yourself and the mid-career women around you, and you’ll likely find untapped potential there to be developed.

The Music Leaders Network will be running once again in September 2022, with individuals and their employers able to pay for places on this programme, and applications open on 6 June. An information event will take place on 10 June. Applications are particularly welcome from black women as few applications were received from black women for previous leaders network programmes.