No oil painting

Art as leadership
Is leadership an art or a science? Given my earlier post I confess this was the topic of the debating final in my last year at school.

Through some quirk of fate we were the affirmative for the proposition ‘Leadership is an art not a science’. Heady stuff for 17 year olds. I am hopeful that most readers would agree with the proposition. I certainly still do.

In keeping with my right brain I was thinking of my 4 year olds artistic skills and jumped to leadership as an art (and then the debate) and therefor – if Leadership was art what would it look like?

So forgive me with this frivolous post (I could help it but I shan’t), leave now if you wish.

What sort of artistic leader are you?

Oils – Think Jack Welch – heavy, chunky, strong and absolute, plenty of substance but not necessarily value. Usually where the money is!

Watercolour – Thin, looks good from a distance, the leader in development, or the leader never grown up, not much behind it. Sometimes surprising results.

Abstract – The Marketer. More creative than anyone around them, off the wall ideas, followers who are hoping one day to understand them. Anything is possible – isn’t it?

Surrealist – The creative accountant. Elements of great leadership blended with mayhem and chaos, interesting and artful. Possibly the future.

Realist – The accountant. Paint by numbers approach to leadership, humour is provided by your subjects not your work, everything previously exists before you get there. Lead by following others. (I appreciate the art, not the leadership.)

Mixed media – Can’t find your desk, uncertain about the direction you are going, confused followers, resourceful at least!

Sculptor – Old school. Build it, touch it, bricks and mortar, substance – you want substance! To hell with technology I can’t see what’s going on.

Potter – Salt of the earth. Trusted, sensitive to others, low tech, honed in traditions, patient and often colourful. Holds things together.

How do you practice your art?

Are you still producing the same art, or have you gone through different phases as life dictated, as with Picasso or Monet?

Have you honed your craft or have you reached its limits?


For the ‘artists’ I know the process of creating art is never over, they are always searching, many past their 70’s.

As leaders are we too glib, or are we demonstrating that we are up to the challenge of growing ourselves and our art?

I’m very much interested in your thoughts – humorous, serious, and artistic!

In case you wondered – which may be the only reason you got this far – I think a Surrealist Oil painter might get most of me. 🙂

Dedicated to Darryl, Leslie, Nga, Martin, Steve, David, Gordon, Pia, Picasso and my daughter Olive.

8 Replies to “No oil painting”

  1. I think leadership is a skill. It is a journey and in the journey leaders get different situations, face different circumstances, see many ups and downs and using those experience and exposure is a leadershi skill. It is a process and does not have any destination. When leaders get position, they reflect their experience through the mix of their personality. Some may reflect it through material gains and some may reflect it through service. So it all depends upon the personality and experience of the leaders that what kind of leader he likes to be. At the same time, leadership does not come with age, it comes with feeling and sensing the situations and circumstances etc.

    1. Thank you Ajay, your continued input here is appreciated. i like your comment it does not come with age.i agree I see some people and you instantly know they are going to lead – i met one the other night Colin Wright 26 years old and on fire –
      Thanks again.

  2. An artistic,right-brained leader….wouldn’t that be something! Add superb “EI” to the mix, a strong customer focus and some “real” values and we’d be getting somewhere!

    When I think about leadership…the “art” for me is simple. Would I follow? Surely that’s THE leadership art?

    1. Yes EI without question Jim. A paradox in that is a number of artists don’t seem to have abundant EI – or maybe it is because I am thinking of genius artists – and Genius has its own set of difficulties.
      Also Jim the motivation posts doubled my record site visits yesterday – so there is a lot of interest around that topic. cheers Richard

  3. Hi Richard. I feel that in leadership, the artistic portion is the vision, and the scientific process the journey. The art is in creating a vision of something currently un-created. The science is in the chemistry of leadership, the interaction between the leader and tribe. The observation and constant adjustments by the leader to keep the tribe engaged and growing towards the vision.

    1. Hi Danijel, thanks for joining us. I agree there is a process of constant adjustment and science can inform the process/ journey. they’re good points you make. thanks again and welcome. Richard

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