Sustainable revenue begins with a sustainable YOU

Sustainable revenue begins with a sustainable YOU

By Stephen Skrypec, VP, UK & Europe 

It’s so tricky to balance the demands of our work and personal lives. I’ve been personally pre-occupied in juggling my work with arts organisations across UK and North America, thinking about my responsibilities, along with the demands of my colleagues and client partnerships. We’d all benefit from having clarity in our busy, easily distracted lives, and to know where to go if we’re not getting the support that we need. 

My colleague Jill is preparing for her next Arts Leadership Book Club, featuring Kim’s Scott’s Radical Candor. As I get stuck into the book as well, it has me thinking about where our industry should focus in 2020.

Whatever your role is in your organisation, everyone has a responsibility to lead, inspire, and motivate others. We’d all be served well by following the advice given in Radical Candor, which shares bucketloads of non-fluffy advice and takeaways to help give us clarity in our lives, to think of our individual wellbeing and how we can best inspire and support others. 

Here are my three areas that I believe we should consider prioritising in 2020. 

1. Stop drowning in data and stay focussed.


“The essence of leadership is not getting overwhelmed by circumstances.”  Kim Scott, Radical Candor

A constant flood of data coupled with an immense amount of change taking place in our communities can lead our teams to be easily distracted, haphazard, and chaotic in decision making.

In the UK, we’re experiencing challenging times through Brexit and following our General Election, and consumer spending is struggling. 

Loyalty has never been so important in setting up our organisations well for the future. And yet, as an example, we’re still talking about developing new audiences – but at the same time not acknowledging (or measuring) the fact that most of them are not coming back

Now is an important time for leaders to come back to centre and provide clarity about where focus should be. What are your organisational priorities for 2020? Can your team articulate those and is there alignment? Are you measuring the data to understand whether you’re making a difference to those priorities? How often are you referring to them? 

But at the very least, choose some essential metrics to monitor and take action on in 2020. And allow your teams to focus on those and not become overwhelmed with competing priorities. 

2. Look after your own and the wellbeing of your colleagues. 


“You can't give a damn about others if you don't give a damn about yourself. What we bring to work depends on our own health and well-being.”  Kim Scott, Radical Candor

We expect a lot from our teams and in our work, at TRG we’ve seen time and time again that teams benefit from having clear focus and permission to “stop doing” some things from leadership.

It’s too easy to reach the point where our work aspirations exceed the time we to deliver them. In 2020, I have resolved to recognise the need to give myself space (and permission) to better my health and wellbeing. I’d encourage leaders to explore whether your organisation REALLY has an appropriate support system in place and a culture that makes raising your hand an okay thing to do. 

Sustainable revenues are not possible without sustaining your team. 

In the UK, a Theatre Helpline is available to anyone working in theatre and the performing arts to those who need support on anything including those which might affect your wellbeing. It’s great that we have this type of support available to us as an industry.

For 2020, I’d greatly encourage some personal rules and boundaries, respected by our leaders, that protect our wellbeing. When days in our industry naturally can expand to over into evenings and later hours we need to ensure there is clear separation when you’re at home so batteries can be recharged. Think about removing work social media and emails from your phone, ensuring there isn’t an expectation in your organisation to be constantly connected. 

3. Leaders: Forget skills and experience. Focus on developing people’s behaviours. 


“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” Kim Scott, Radical Candor

How are we developing and supporting our leaders of the future? When we’re recruiting, why aren’t we considering behaviours rather than skills?  Patrick Lencioni’s great podcast, Stop hiring the wrong people, focuses on why we need to look beyond expertise and experience.

The change should not stop with how we hire. As organisations need to focus more on growing loyalty and on retaining audiences, this involves the work and investment in your team. In my experience, the organisations who are succeeding on cultivating sustainable revenue sources from patrons, are those who are investing resources in their teams. I’m still shocked to hear from passionate teams that have never had time with their leader or time together away from the day to day work to develop, evolve and grow. 

For 2020, consider your training and hiring practices. Shake things up. Ensure there is an investment in time with your teams away from the day to day to coach, reflect and, most important of all, listen. Let’s set ourselves and those who put trust in us up to succeed.

And one more thing: Let’s never forget… data doesn’t do, people do. Let’s look after ourselves.



Posted January 30, 2020
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