The Creative Art of Leadership

I was once married to a writer.  It was not said explicitly but it was regularly inferred—he was the creative one—the artist—and I, as a pursuer of  business, was the facts-figures-hard-core thinker.

I knew it then and I am certain of it now—business is a creative pursuit.

All businesses are dynamic, moving, growing (or shrinking), in a constant change of flux dependent on market conditions, resources, capital and the like.  We, as leaders are the artists, the creators of the responses our businesses make and take in order to succeed.   Our canvas is the marketplace, our palette is our people and our creativity is our own intellect. 

I own several dozen business books that echo this notion of art, some of them include;

The ART of Possibility (Zander & Zander), Sun Tzu’s The ART of War (Gagliardi), Leadership as an ART (Max Depree).

I contemplate on this word, ART which is defined my Collins Concise as ‘the exercise of human imaginative skill’.

True leaders express their creativity by creating businesses of beauty and special significance.

I stumbled across this address by Field Marshall Slim (former Governor-General of Australia). It again  stressed this point;

“To begin with, we do not talk in the army of “management” but of “leadership”.  This is significant.  There is a difference between leaders and management.  Leadership is of the spirit, compounded of personality and vision: its practice is an art.  Management is of the mind, more a matter of accurate calculation of statistics, of methods, time tables and routines: its practice is a science.  Managers are necessary, leaders are essential”.


ImageMichelle Clarke is an Executive Coach based in Cape Town. She works locally and internationally with Leaders, Executives and Executive Coaches, helping them to navigate the complexity of 21st century leadership.  To learn more about her work please visit her website, and be sure also to subscribe to this blog for future updates.

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2 responses to “The Creative Art of Leadership

  1. We all go through trials and a divorce is a tough one to share, refreshing to read. That you refer to his labeling of you infers it still means something to you, but don’t lose the ‘science’ of leadership in pursuit of the ‘art’ of it. Collins might call it ‘exercising imaginative skill’ however there is a huge place in Leadership for for analysis, assessment, good decision making and using tried and tested formulas. FM Slim may have said Leadership is Vision and Personality/Spirit, but these are just 2 of the 12 traits of a good leader. There are huge areas around ‘consistency’; ‘adaptability’; inclusiveness etc……… which all talk to leading with the ‘known, tested and proven’.
    These are all critical, just look at our country, we’d do well to lead with the ‘known, tested and proven’ right now.
    Followers look to leaders who know what they are doing and can communicate it well.
    Good luck and let go of the label…. it isn’t yours, it was his 🙂

  2. Thanks Jacques. It’s always a stretch to share one’s personal trials with readers…and I hope I’ve shared elegantly in the spirit of authentic leadership – just a snippet, after all!
    I love the contributions you make on this blog. I thank you, and agree that we should not lose the science as much as we should not forgo the art 🙂

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