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Ian Wilson

Leadership Series person Written by Ian Wilson Chief Executive - Grand Opera House
Ian Wilson

Tell us a bit about your role?

Leading colleagues across all departments of the Theatre, my job is to create an exciting performance programme, attract the widest possible audience, deliver an unrivalled customer experience, ensure the Theatre remains a successful and sustainable business, and manage the stewardship of one of Northern Ireland’s most iconic and historic buildings.

What are the biggest issues facing leaders today?

The uncertain political environment. From the absence of a Stormont government to the current vagueness surrounding Brexit and the future shape of the border between North and South. Challenging times no doubt lie ahead.

The world is ever fast-changing! Organisations must have the talent, flexibility and resources to adapt quickly so as to be sustainable.

As organisations get larger there’s often a tendency toward dampening inspiration. How do you encourage creative thinking within your business?

A key part of my job is to create audience development initiatives to ensure that the Grand Opera House not only engages with existing audiences but also finds and develops future audiences. We recently presented our first ever three-day Family Festival to encourage and engage with an important section of the community for which opportunities are currently underrepresented in the Theatre’s programme.

The Family Festival’s huge success was a result of colleagues from all departments working creatively and effectively as one project team on over 30 events attended by over 1,700 people. I’m fortunate to lead a superb team. However, the responsibility for establishing the conditions where creativity can flourish, and be encouraged and applauded, lies with the Chief Executive.

If you had to name three characteristics of great leaders what would they be?

Resilience. If something doesn’t work out the way you intended, dust yourself down, move on and bring everyone with you.

Appreciate the talent around you. People thrive on being noticed and appreciated. That’s the basis for encouraging improvement in the organisation.

Communicate. Effective communication provides clarity for colleagues and helps develop positive, engaging and fruitful working relationships across the organisation.

What advice would you give someone going into leadership position for the first time?

Listen and learn from colleagues and understand the mood of the organisation but follow your own instincts in setting the organisation’s direction of travel to ensure the business ends up where you’d like it to be.