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The artistic side of leadership

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

Artists are the creative ones, you know, the other-side-of-the-brain people. Like any other leader, artists:
  • Lead teams. Artists have to confront, disappoint and dismantle as well as inspire. For instance, theater directors lead a range of artists from set design to acting to sound. Through it all, they grant as much license as possible but also have to make tough decisions, such as cutting entire scenes.

  • Work on the edge between what’s familiar and what’s emerging. Like leaders in business and science, artists experiment.

  • Tolerate ambiguity. Even amid complexity and uncertainty, artistic leaders explore options until they find the best way.

  • Operate within the limits of a medium. Whether they’re working with paint, stone or an orchestra, leading artists learn everything they can about their medium but realize they can’t control certain things.

  • Turn the work over to the group. By the time dress rehearsal rolls around (or when they’re testing a new product), leaders need to let go and become less directive and more observant, like coaches or guides.
—Adapted from Leadership Can Be Taught, Sharon Daloz Parks, Harvard Business School Press.

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