A revelation (with a lot of help)

I was complaining to my supervisor yesterday. I know, what a surprise. This particular complaint was about just how hard writing is. Again, surprise. I really find the process of pulling together chapters to be more physically and psychologically challenging than I expected. I thought that by now, almost three years in, it would be ‘coming together.’I keep waiting for what I call the tipping point where I feel comfortable in my knowledge of my subject.

The tipping point on leadership theory came early last year.  I now comfortably roll my eyes when someone extols the virtue of authentic leadership as I know enough to debunk it.* But theoretically and methodologically my own thesis is far from that point. My ever helpful supervisor said “oh it will likely come just as you finish.” Great.  Which means eight months of sweat and tears.  

Of course this is a job.  A different sort of job, but still a job.  It’s not all coffee and yoga breaks. So I have to keep that in mind and remind my husband frequently. 

On another note my supervisor and I talked research question and how I haven’t cracked that yet either.  She said I don’t technically need a simple question, but I feel I do. We agreed that the words leadership, capability, understanding, identity, creative industries and Australia all need to be in there.  But then she added one more that blew open the door to my thinking: comparison. 

Given I’m writing on nine different sectors within the creative industries I always planned to do some ‘compare and contrast’ work.  But I had always positioned my thesis as a comparison to the broader economy, to the corporate sector that tries to learn creativity from the arts. “But you’re not talking about the broader economy in the study” my supervisor said quite rightly. That is way too broad.

What I’m doing is a comparison on how different sectors within the creative industries develop leadership capability, understanding and identity. How they differ in uses of social learning, how their views toward leadership shift and how organisations play varying roles in that development. 

I almost feel like it’s cheating. Like she gave me the answer.  That one word suddenly repositioned my whole structure. I’m currently in the midst of re-listening and coding my interviews and, even though I’m only three sectors in, the key themes are so strong it’s crazy.  I can see three distinct chapters, one on the rejection of leadership/construction of leadership context and identity, one on the differences between sectors, with emphasis on organisational development and precariousness of employment, and one on confidence and its links to development of capability, identity and understanding. But all looking between the cases not outside them. 

Of course this isn’t the tipping point. As see the road is not walking along it. But it’s the first step. 
* I was looking at the publications of the academic who got my ‘dream job’ at Melbourne Uni. He has about 15 publications and two books and graduated with his PhD 2015.  This is why I’m now applying for jobs with Craft Victoria. But he had written some book reviews, which I read, and the confidence (there’s that word again) with which he unpacked and critiqued books I had read and valued made it clear why he will have a long academic career and why I will be more happy where I can teach in a professional context. Jealous, absolutely, but realistic. 


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