21st Century Leadership

Defining a new leadership development opportunity at Battersea Arts Centre

dear my fellow leaders,

unfortunately I won’t be able to join the final legacy day with you this Friday, October 19th, in London.

as part of the final legacy, I thought I would share my own quotes that came to me during my 21st Century Leadership development. I hope you will find fun reading them. Thank you very much for giving me inspiration to create my own leadership format. : )

Li-E Chen’s quotes: -

“The biggest risk is to do something that no-one knows what and why you are doing.”

“Art is all about creating a situation, not any kind of situations, but a case of being open…”

“Your mind can change a situation, how? you change your mind.”

“I asked the leaders to become invisible and be a player rather than a leader.”

“Rejection gives me inspiration. When people reject me, I invent things or create situations out of rejection.”

“I will need to do more what I hate than what I love, because this will help me to do bigger things.”

"I don’t know if I have understood the word Vulnerability correctly (in Chinese: 脆弱性) but I am still learning it. for me, it is the fear of rejection - but i do better in dealing with rejection now. Whoever rejects my ideas or proposals, rejections give me inspiration and motivation to invent and create.”

"My mind became ‘mouldy’, it was necessary in order to overcome challenges."

“Working beyond my imagination.”

“After universities,  I had been given many opportunities to start a career, such as working in an international 3D animation company, BBC producing, teaching in universities or becoming a rich businesswomen. But I still choose to work in the art and want to challenge the possibilities of creating and discovering things beyond our imaginations.”

“Work hard. Don’t work too hard.”

“Do you want to understand the secrets of human’s mind? This is like asking I want to see your brain or skull.”

“Don’t constrain by a vision, or the ‘things’.

“Make it real”

'24 Hours in Dreams' at BAC

24 hours in dreams

as part of my independent partnership

at BAC

24 Hours in Dreams was a 24-hour campaign to demonstrate how free open access to cross-disciplinary public spaces could act as a catalyst to drive the future of art and culture.

The campaign included live writing, research, performance and installation pieces from Li-E Chen, Benjamin Sebastian, Bean, and the participants from the public. The campaign was created as part of Li-E Chen’s independent project in 21st Century Leadership programme (run BAC in partnership with Watershed and The Sage Gateshead). ‘24 Hours in Dreams’Thursday 28th June - Friday 29th June 2012 (for 24 hours from 9pm to 9pm)at Battersea Arts Centre (Foyer) London SW11 5TN & Online via Twitter

read more about the campaign via Storify

A short essay by Li-E Chen

5 october 2012

Catalysing Change: 21st Century Leadership and the idea of Play

Over the course of my leadership development I came to realize that there are no absolutely right or wrong approaches to leadership. The flexibility in being able to change from one to another leadership style is what is important and challenging, and I wish to explore it here. In this short essay, I will begin with a reference to Muhammad Ali, who was a master of changing his styles to suit his fights, and will follow this with a conceptual exploration of ways to understand change and movement through the concept of invisible leadership, which I have approached through photography.

Muhammad Ali and Play

Muhammad Ali began his career as a young dancer who could fight with his hands down because he was too fast to be hit. He was then stripped of his title for three and a half years and unable to box because he refused to be drafted to fight in the Vietnam War. Ali became known as a civil rights and anti-war leader because of his stance, but he was also a leader in the way he boxed. When he was given back his license he was not the same fighter, and had to adapt his style to fit his skills. He won through endurance and also the mind games he would play on opponents. Even in his most difficult fights there was always an element of play, as well as adaptability, in the way he fought.

Ali once said, “If they can make penicillin out of mouldy bread, they can sure make something out of you.” But Ali proves that you can make something out of you too. It is from Muhammad Ali that I have come to say: “Your mind can change a situation, how? You change your mind.” To change from one leadership style to another, you need to change your mind, your way of thinking. You may even need to invent new ways of leading to suit the new situation.

I Declared: I am Invisible Now (photography)

I Declared: I am Invisible Now is a series of photographs taken outside the Hayward Gallery at the Southbank Centre in London. The project involved photographing people before and after they declared themselves invisible. My participation in the 21st Century Leadership programme led me to explore what could happen when people made this declaration. I wanted to use photography to capture the moment of change and to experience what takes place in the participants who make the declaration.

It is not an easy task to be invisible, as most of us would rather voice our own desires and have them determine the way things are organised. I was inspired by artist Phelim McDermott’s talk at the BAC and I asked him how to lead when others want to take control. He said it was a matter of supporting others and becoming ‘invisible’ yourself, not trying to take control of the open space. After six months of exploration, I came to understand that an invisible leader need not be at the centre of the group, but to be aware of what else is happening. As an invisible leader, when I notice if someone else wants to take the lead, I should support that person even if I do not necessarily agree with everything he or she wants to do. By doing this, leadership can happen and be given shape.

a self-reflection to the end and beginning of my 21st century leadership development 

date: 6 october 2012 | li-e chen

In order to achieve high quality of artwork
I need to discipline myself to do one thing only and one thing at a time.

If I have just focused on ‘I am invisible now’ the book, it will have much amazing result in my 21st century leadership programme.

There were quite few people who suggested me to do one thing only, but I didn’t believe and was overambitious wanting to multiple projects. I am sure it is always all right to deliver multi-actions at the same time, but the quality of the works will not be very good and may have created bad impression/wasting all the efforts.

David Jubb said in the 21st Century Leadership meeting already, ACE assessor recently gave me the similar feedback about my unsuccessful application, someone at work has also kept reminding me to do one thing only.

I think this was my biggest weakness.
To achieve high standard and quality of something, someone has to pay attention to details very closely to the work as if it’s staying with you all the time

No one will be able to distract you
Nothing will be a problem

Just focus on it

It is necessary just to do with one thing only in the coming 12 months - the one year laboratory project only; - always select my priority when i choose to attend an event or do something; If it does not meet my chosen priority, say no.

Remember what it was like 7 years of studying arts – to develop and create great art was the only priority – nothing else – became quite damaging physically, emotionally and mentally

now have just recovered and can select art as my priority again

What could i do now if i go back art as my priority?

Someone in the leadership programme said, something about human relationship is the most important thing than the artwork itself or production of the artwork. 

The Association of Transformational Leaders, Europe, is holding its first conference this weekend - I’m invited to perform and workshop Vocal Tai Chi. http://www.atleurope.eu/ A real privilege to have been asked.


Michael J. Marquardt

Need for a New Way to Develop Leaders 


Action Learning and Leadership - World Institute for Action Learning

Just like where I grew up.

A Northern town that grew up around an industry since gone into decline. A town centre of low-end retail chains. An indoor market with lots of meat.

I didn’t have a strong reaction to Scunthorpe, so writing a response doesn’t come easily. I didn’t find myself struck by how this differs from London, so much as the similarity to Huddersfield. Truth be told, I quite liked the sense of the ordinary, the absence of a hyperbole by which everything is amazing and exciting. Where people can spend a day fishing. But the familiarity of the place reminded me that I’m still surprised to be working in the arts, as if a door had been left carelessly unlocked. That sense of a place where it’s barely on the agenda for consumption or engagement, never mind employment.

Haddock that’s half the price of cod. Beer for £1.80 a pint. Wild women propositioning me. Tea sets from charity shops. Heavy steel door on the music shop.

I loved that the young people’s initiative has an age ceiling of 20, so that graduates are grown-ups. I loved that they even have young people’s initiatives. The local history museum has a whole cabinet dedicated to the fighting of rampant young men from the steel works, and authority’s attempts to pacify them. History does not record whether this display of violence was innate, or a response to industrial conditions. But in a town that now feels heavily pacified, it seems like these initiatives are creating pockets of empowerment and activity.

Yesterday I was on London’s South Bank. If felt like there was too much art. But no-one noticed.

I left Huddersfield to go to university. I had no reason to go back.

Jim’s leaving Scunthorpe to work in Reading. A man needs to earn a living.

Hayley’s sticking around. To make a difference. Respect.

Marks & Spencer moved out of Scunthorpe in January 2011.

Alyn x

a card says about leadership


different kind of leaderships (one starts with project-based for young people, the other starts from young people’s themselves.)

Wouldn’t be nice if the two difference kind of leadership come or work together?

speaker 1: Grill

work with all art forms - focus on young people

Arts Development Officer






campaign network


local community


speaker 2: David & Jim

Volunteers Action

Set up - independent

Ideas come from young people themselves

Start from people!!

Unpick things from people - can create anything

This is where turn young people’s ideas into reality!!

The leader does not like to tell others what to do, the leader wants young people to learn and be independent, to figure things out themselves.

What would happen if young people deliver works to other places using new media? Works will be created from home and reach bigger audience.