Knowing When to Get Off Stage
Happy New Year! This is my 402 post and it is my last. Leadership Matters is closing up shop. I've been thinking about ending this blog for a while. After all, it's been a decade, nine years of writing weekly, and a year of monthly posts. When I started I was almost alone in writing about the museum workplace, particularly issues around museum leadership.
Today, so much has changed. Social media has exploded, Twitter has bloomed and faded, while TikTok and Snapchat are ascendant, along with ever-present podcasts. And the blog, a simple essay of sorts, has become a sort of antique. But changes in social media aren't the reason I'm closing this down. In my most optimistic moments, I'd like to think the museum field caught up, that it's ready to talk about the fact that working in a museum may not be the Nirvana it sometimes appears from outside, but more importantly, I know there are folks out there whose experience and thoughts are more relevant than mine. Hopefully you will find them or maybe you are ready to become one of the field's thought leaders.
When Nina Simon packed up and took herself off stage in 2019, I was startled, but also in awe. It was a shock, but not a surprise, a totally Nina thing to do, combining courage, adventure and self care in one swift set of key strokes. If you're a regular reader, you know I feel strongly about museum folk sticking around past their sell date. It's not about age, it's about knowing when you're not contributing, and I'm pretty sure, that here on these pages, I've said everything I need to say.
I have friends and colleagues who "have" blogs, but they write rarely if at all. If Leadership Matters can claim anything, it can claim consistency. So for all of you who've enjoyed reading, thank you. Knowing you're out there somewhere nodding in agreement at my thoughts, rants, and whining, means a lot.
Before I go, here's a wrap-up of what happened here in 2022: Despite my optimism, things can't have improved that much because guess what post stubbornly maintained its top spot for the sixth year in a row? Oh, that would be Leadership and Workplace Bullying. It was followed closely by How Not to Write a Job Description, Raising the Wellness Flag, and Trying to Plan in the Unsettling of Covid. Rounding out the top five were Putting the Dipstick Down on the Museum Workforce, and finally, The Silent Treatment and What to Do About It, which talks about bullying's passive aggressive twin, not speaking to each other. Like I said, if you're measuring the museum workforce's health based on Leadership Matters' readership, there's clearly some work to be done.
So to end, as always, here in a list of bullet points, my hopes for museum staff and their leaders in 2023 and beyond.
That leaders recognize the gender pay gap, recognize how racist it is, and act swiftly to close it. Or as Anne Helen Peterson puts it, "We are trying to make our partnerships more equitable, because enduring gender inequity (apart from being bullshit) monopolizes energy better sent elsewhere. " Maybe you can't fix the world, but you can fix your own organization.
That leaders--indeed everyone--practice empathy, kindness and respect--rather than a kind of Gotcha Leadership where everything is fine until you cross a line you didn't know was there. Remember what the inimitable Lisa Lee said, "“At the museum we pretend we’re not grappling with other issues, but we’re human beings all day.”
That museums and heritage sites, however small, develop HR policies, helping staff, paid and volunteers navigate workplace issues from happy things--like pregnancy and adoption--to moments of grief, to bullying and harassment.
That boards take their responsibilities, particularly in terms of their own biases--unconscious and not, as seriously as today's museum leaders do, supporting brave, courageous organizations that help us understand the world's issues and complexities.
That boards and leaders recognize that failing to pay a living wage diminishes us all.
That museums and heritage organizations partner, collaborate and listen to their communities, who not only know what they like, but know their own stories.
That AAM, AASLH, AAMD, and AAMG recognize they are what they are because museum workers, hourly, salaried, unionized and not, support them, attend their meetings and trainings, and serve on their boards. Those people matter. Not just because they care for things, but because they are humans who work, and talking about the world of museum work, with all its foibles, makes it easier to understand, and in the end, maybe raises the bar on a better workplace.
Leadership Matters--all 400+ posts--will be available until June so if you want to read, print, cite or quote, have at it. After that it will close. Thank you again for reading, for commenting, and most of all, for the work you do. Flawed, courageous, human, and endlessly creative, you're the best.
Be well and be kind.