MOBO founder: Resilience can help leaders reset values

Kanya King, founder of the MOBO Awards
PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

Organisations can use the pandemic to reset and emphasise their values, according to Kanya King, founder of the MOBO (Music of Black Origin) Awards.

Speaking at a webinar for training provider, the Executive Development Network, King said: “A crisis is an opportune time to look at one’s core values and business mission, and for leaders to re-emphasise their values to motivate and galvanise people.”

She discussed the challenges the organisation had faced this year as its annual awards ceremony was forced to ‘go virtual’ due to the pandemic. “The music industry and thousands of people that work alongside it – from haulage workers to catering – with all the big events cancelled there has never been a year like this,” she said.

“It’s forced us to pause, stop and take stock. But even turbulent times present opportunities to challenge the status quo and drive innovation.”

King described how she had been “written off” by career advisors at school because she wanted to start her own business. She later went to university but as she had to juggle study with motherhood she never completed her degree.

She put on music events and in the 1990s realised there was no celebration of diversity in music, and the idea for the MOBOs was born.

A meeting with a television executive when she was working at a football ground was the catalyst she needed to launch the awards.

“Looking back I was very naive in what I hoped to achieve and lacked experience. But I more than made up for that in passion, determination, grit and being resilient.”

Alongside its awards, MOBO also runs a fund for struggling musicians and a trust that helps talented young people from diverse backgrounds to break into the music industry and performing arts.

“Resilience represents not just an opportunity to mitigate risks but also the opportunity to create advantage.”

And in December 2020, it announced the launch of ‘Mobolise’, a platform that connects black people to mentoring, networking and job opportunities in the creative industries. King said that too often employers focused on educational qualifications and that black people were often put off joining this sector as they felt they lacked connections.

She added that managers in the music industry and beyond would need resilience to recover, but that those with a strong culture are “built to withstand disruption”.

Training managers in resilience would be essential for the months ahead: “Resilience represents not just an opportunity to mitigate risks but also the opportunity to create advantage,” she said.

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