Friday, 22 July 2011

As a leader: are you painter or a sculptor?

Near where I live there is delightful wooded walk into town. About half way there is a green man sculpted into a tree stump, calmly staring at you as you walk on by. It struck me the other day that often sculptors have to work in reverse. In other words they make their art by what they leave behind rather than what they add (like a painter).

And I got to thinking whether good leadership is a little like that. Many leaders spend their time coming up with new visions, new procedures and new ways to manage change (etc). Their art is expressed by what they add...

But perhaps other leaders (better leaders?) express their art by focusing on what they can take away or what obstacles they can remove. In other words the art is allowed to emerge rather than being applied like paint. I have heard sculptors talk about how the forms they create are already in the stone they work with – and it is their job to unwrap these hidden shapes.

So as a leader – are you painter or a sculptor? Or are you both – in which case when do you choose to paint and when do you elect to sculpt instead?

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