So you want to become a GM, now what? Embrace the numbers.

Posted: 2017-09-12 4:28:27 PM by WorkInCulture editor | with 0 comments


Written by Young Associates

In the arts and culture sector, organizations are led by bright, talented, tenacious individuals, many who are often accomplished artists themselves. Some are accomplished in other areas - often successful fundraisers and convincing advocates and bridge builders. But let’s face it, very few GMs of small and mid-sized arts organizations have extensive experience in financial management. While it is tempting for a GM to focus on their areas of strengths and ‘outsource’ financial matters to the board or to the bookkeeper, a successful general manager must embrace a leadership role in this area to ensure sound decision making and successful planning. Avoiding ‘the numbers’ opens up the organization - and the individual - to huge amounts of risk and makes for a stressful reality.

While it can seem ominous at first, a GM needs to take responsibility for the organization’s financial statements. Legally, the board is on the hook for the organization, and other staff members might be responsible for bookkeeping tasks, but the administrative leader of the organization needs to be fully engaged with budgeting, cashflow, banking, and financial planning. If you want to become a GM, you need to know the language of financial management to understand your organization’s operating statements (balance sheet and income statement). You need to check in regularly with these statements and gauge progress and identify challenges. You need to budget with the long term health of the organization in mind and not simply react in the moment. You need to effectively report on financial matters to the board and other stakeholders. A successful GM will not put their head in the sand when it comes to financial management. They will embrace the numbers.

Join us for our upcoming series with Young Associates

Take the Lead: Principles for Administrative Leadership in the Arts

Date: October 12 & 13 | 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Venue: Young Associatea HQ | 675 King Street West, Suite 203, Toronto ON, M5V1M9


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