The Essential Relationship Between The Arts and Leadership:dancing_statue

Leadership is a performing art. As a leader, how well we perform our role determines how successful we will be.  It’s not what you do, it’s how well you do it – and how effective you are in accomplishing your aims. As Peter Drucker once wrote, “it’s not about doing things right, it’s about doing the right things.”  Knowing what to choose to do is often more art than science, meaning there is rarely a clear or definitive course of action. Your choices are ultimately informed by “who” you are and how prepared you are to make them. Most problems we face require us to know how to shift our perspective and look at things in different ways – not just react to the way we first see them. Shooting first and then aiming is a strategy we should avoid whenever possible. And when off-the-shelf solutions don’t work ( as is often the case) – we need to invent solutions that will. We need a keen sense of imagination to see things that are not in front of our eyes. And we need the confidence that we can wonder beyond the boundaries of our comfort zone – to find what we need. It can be said that the boundaries of an organization are defined by the limitations of it’s leadership. The artist knows that our finest work doesn’t happen when we settle in and get comfortable. Life’s masterpieces are born out of either deep dissatisfaction with the status quo, from the courage to confront our deepest fears by exploring places and things others would prefer not to, and by having the conviction to be unconventional in our thinking and true to our personal sense of purpose.

The arts today are often reduced to entertainment and decoration. This is a mistake. The arts inform us to the fullest of all human potential. They inspire us to feel differently, think differently and do different things. They change us.  The arts also educate us. We learn to approach life with a greater sense of wonder and curiosity. We look at problems differently. And we see ourselves with expanded senses of possibility and potential.

The arts are not the bellwether of a vibrant society: they are the vital source of that vibrance. When children’s education includes the arts – they learn the fundamentals of leadership – whether that is how to best lead their own lives, 0r perhaps how to lead others. They develop confidence in how they think, who they are and what they can accomplish. They are better at collaboration, more adventurous and ultimately more inventive. Music teaches mathematics. The visual arts sharpens the thinking about spacial relationships that lead to innovations in science. Theater constructs the potential of people working together, collaborating for a shared purpose.

And in today’s companies – embracing the value of the arts fosters an environment that sparks in
novation, inspires personal performance and develops the kind of leadership thinking that will provide sustainable continuity for organizations beyond tomorrow.

The role of business in the arts can not simply be that of patron. Successful business leaders have the power to be the voice for The Arts. We have the competencies required to bring attention. We have the means to fund educational and cultural programs by setting examples, communicating the necessity and making it possible for The Arts to thrive in our schools and our communities.

Our belief is that business leaders must partner with community leaders as well as those who lead the cause for education and for supporting The Arts – to create expanding ripples that can reach the people who will make a difference. With our voices we can start a conversations among ourselves. We can create dialogues with those who direct public policy. We can inform those who govern by illuminating the value of The Arts to society and igniting the passion of their constituents. And we can bring The Arts back, front and center along with science, technology,engineering and math (STEM) – to not only bring forth a better educated and more productive population and workforce – but a better, safer, more tolerant world.