Ep 51: A Symphony of Shared Leadership (with Jim Roe and Bernard Labadie)

by Joan Garry

At arts orgs, how should power be shared when, in addition to the Executive Director, there is also a creative director who is, perhaps, the most important leader of all? My guests explain how their very successful shared leadership model really works for them, and ultimately results in a beautiful symphony.


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One of my fundamental beliefs about nonprofits is that when done right, power is shared between two co-pilots – the Executive Director and the board chair.

But there are exceptions. For example, how should power be shared at an arts organization where there is a creative director who is, perhaps, the most important leader of all?

Today, I invited Jim Roe and Bernard Labadie onto the podcast. Jim is the President and Executive Director and Bernard the Artistic Director of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. And they have a very successful shared leadership model.

The most common model at arts organizations like the Orchestra of St. Luke’s is that the staff reports to the CEO and the principal conductor has a whole lot of power through artistic leadership. However, the vision of these two co-pilots may or may not be aligned.

So, who’s in charge anyway?

My guests discuss the realities around their roles and the intersection of strategy and artistic vision. They explain where their energies should be focused, and how the synergy results in a model for shared leadership that not only really works for them, but ultimately results in a beautiful symphony.

About James Roe and Bernard Labadie

JAMES ROE, President and Executive Director

James Roe’s career spans three-decades in classical music. He joined Orchestra of St. Luke’s as President & Executive Director in November 2015, having previously served as President & CEO of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Roe enjoyed a performance career that included roles with NJSO, Zéphyros Winds, American Symphony Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, and Orchestra of St. Luke’s. From 1996 until 2013, Roe served as Executive and Artistic Director of the Helicon Foundation.

BERNARD LABADIE, Artistic Director

Bernard Labadie joined Orchestra of St. Luke’s as Artistic Director in 2017. He has established himself worldwide as a leading conductor of Baroque and Classical repertoire, a reputation closely tied to his work as Founding Conductor of Les Violons du Roy and La Chapelle de Québec. In 2016, Bernard Labadie received the Samuel de Champlain award in Paris. He was honored with a 2005 appointment as Officer of the Order of Canada and his home province named him a Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Québec in 2006.

In this episode

  • Maintaining balance when the conductor creates art and the CEO manages the organization
  • How does an arts organization address and share strategic leadership?
  • How does the reporting structure affect governance?
  • What should the dynamic of this relationship look like at its best?
  • Who is on the board?
  • Who gets to be involved in official policy?
  • What happens when you bring in outsiders and the different energies clash?

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