I recently read an article, “Every Leader is an Artist” at the Harvard Business Review web site. The article, written by Michael O’Malley, author of a book by the same name, makes the argument that great leaders are artists. He compares the artist to the leader to show those similarities.
While I agree with O’Malley, it raises the question: “How do we get leaders in business to see themselves as artists and, therefore, embrace art?”
It’s a big question.
Many in traditional leadership positions favor the “left-brained” way of thinking. Spreadsheets filled with numbers certainly doesn’t feel like art. On the surface most of the decision-making activities of a leader don’t feel like art.
But the interconnectedness of those numbers to real-world solutions is a form of art. It takes not just analysis but the ability to see through the numbers to the bigger picture. It isn’t just about one product or service but the implications of it’s existence in the marketplace. It isn’t just about customer as consumer but customer as partner.
All those connections, some more abstract than others, reach far across both the left and right sides of our brains. It is art. It is analysis. It is a combination of both.
So how do we get leaders to embrace art?
Is it in the ability of the artist to embrace analysis?
Is it in the joining of forces, the bringing together of both artist and business leader?
Where and how can we begin to create the threads that will bring them both together?