ART AND LEADERSHIP: Creative Leadership Begins with Play

Here’s a new twist on work evaluations! Michael O’Malley suggests 12 criteria to judge how much of an artist your fearless leader might be! If  indeed, Every Leader is an Artist, we need to move these challenging criteria into a happier dance to ensure success… 

His criteria are:

  1. Intent. Do they make an express commitment to achieve certain exceptional ends?
  2. Focus. Do they highlight certain features of the business environment over others to separate the important from the trivial?
  3. Skill. Do they demonstrate mastery or virtuosity in critical aspects of business; do they possess a foundation for understanding people, organizations, and the way work is accomplished?
  4. Form. Do they combine their communications, structures, policies, etc. into a unified, coherent whole?
  5. Representation. Do they convey meanings, in nonobvious and captivating ways, as opposed to giving simple directives and making straightforward declarations of fact?
  6. Imagination. Do they make surprising and unconventional departures from the ordinary that create a new sense of awareness or understanding?
  7. Authenticity. Do they present a stylistic distinctiveness that is an honest expression of their individuality and personal beliefs?
  8. Engagement. Do they offer complex and challenging information that stimulates intellectual effort and imaginative contemplation?
  9. Pleasure. Do they provide emotionally rewarding experiences that are shared among members of a group, promoting stronger bonds and fostering personal fulfillment?
  10. Human significance. Do they facilitate personal reflection about who one is, what is most important, what is culturally valuable, and what is possible?
  11. Context. Do they take actions that are commensurate with institutional practices, customs, demands, and norms, and communicate in a style that is understandable and appropriate?
  12. Criticism. Do they welcome discourse and evaluation from others regarding how well they have performed and the amount of appreciation they should be afforded?
6097-9Now who can create art with all these things in mind? Sure, from the outside, appreciation of these elements helps followers and colleagues integrate a maverick creative leader into an organization or community! And for business purposes, these are great for a work evaluation. But from the point of view of the leader, let me propose three qualities that will aid in the dance of developing the art of leadership.
1. PLAY — let there be joy in the challenges, rewards for a difficult achievement, and delight in discovery
2. QUESTION – your own assumptions, your own process, and turn your process around on its head in order to create something new
3. CELEBRATE new experiences, including failures. Experiment! Apologize if you have to, and move on with your new knowledge.

Art is trial and error, play and experiment, discovery and discipline. Yes, that big list of 12 ways of measuring good leadership will result from a good communicator who also happens to be a creative leader. But it all starts with you…

Wanna get there? It’s a risk, but worth it. PLAY, QUESTION, CELEBRATE. That’s creative authenticity at work.


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