We’re so happy you asked.
According to a dictionary, art is skill. It is a display, application or expression of creative skill and imagination. Art produces works to be appreciated for their beauty and emotional power. (Oxnard English Dictionary)
Here are our 5 reasons why Leadership is Art
You are the leader – you are the artist. Regardless if you retain a formal title or are simply driven to have an impact on the lives of others, you are an artist. Artists are highly skilled in their area of focus and for you that’s people. In order to master this skill, you must first master who you are. Answering the very basic question of why you lead is not always easy. It takes uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. It is only then that we can uncover our raw, authentic and genuine answer. It is that answer that holds the key to unlocking the potential for so many.
The making of a work of art…is a strange and risky business in which the maker never knows quite what he is making until he makes it.
R.G. Collingwood, English philosopher, The Principles of Art, 1938
We do not lead widgets – we lead people. The beauty truly lies in the differences of our individuality. However, what provides beauty also provides it share of challenges. As leaders, we must find a way to connect with each person individually to ultimately understand what value they bring. Knowing the best mode to connect is an art in itself.
Art is the unceasing effort to compete with the beauty of flowers – and never succeeding.
Marc Chagall, Russian-French artist, remark, 1977
There are three lines you must know. First, the organizational lines, in everyday terms these are sometimes referred to as the “organizational politics.” Regardless of what you call it, it is how an organization functions when the dynamics are in full play. Secondly, you must know your team’s lines. The people you lead and supervise each have their own limits and boundaries and to be highly effective as a leader – an awareness of them is not optional. Finally, you must know your own lines. What are your personal boundaries and limits? Without this knowledge, you risk being unable to sustain your performance and then nothing else matters. Once, you know these lines then you can artfully strategize how to navigate them to manifest change.
Art is harmony.
George Seurat, French painter, Letter to Maurice Beaubourg, 1890
The root cause for the miscommunication epidemic plaguing organization and teams is assumptions. We naturally as a culture assume way too much. We assume so much that we’ve even given our assumptions a generic term, common sense. The work environment has proven to be a true breeding ground for assumption. We assume that people know what is professional attire. We assume that people know what is proper office etiquette. We assume that people know when to ask for help. All assumptions that we see being made everyday in organizations. The only way to combat assumptions is to establish expectations. Creating expectations that withstand perceptions is an artform. Not to mention the artful tactics needed to hold individuals accountable to them.
Ideas alone can be works of art….All ideas need not be made physical.…A work of art may be understood as a conductor from the artist’s mind to the viewer’s. But it may never reach the viewer, or it may never leave the artist’s mind.
Sol LeWitt, American artist, “Sentences on Conceptual Art,” in Art and Its Significance, 1994
Can you see it? Can you see the vision? Can you articulate what it looks like, sounds like, feels like? If you can’t, I am going to guess that your team can’t. You must see the vision. You must believe the vision. It is only then that the organizational vision has any chance of possibly becoming a reality.
To evoke in oneself a feeling one has experienced, and…then, by means of movements, lines, colors, sounds or forms expressed in words, so to transmit that feeling—this is the activity of art.
Leo Tolstoy, Russian author, What is Art? 1890