Art and leadership are natural allies in the business world

As art is a medium that relies on communication to deliver a message, indulging in it can facilitate collaboration to solve challenges in the workplace

Albert Einstein famously  said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” This holds true even today, given the highly dynamic business environment. As markets, competition and technology have evolved, there has been a heightened need for a transition from the traditional managerial mode of running a business to a leadership-driven role. Leaders are seen as trendsetters and influencers with their bold moves, inspired visions, enthusiasm, imagination and creativity. These traits to a large extent can be credited to art where, like an artist, business leaders leverage their unique personalities, abilities and skills to devise creative solutions to problems.

As one of the finest ways of experiencing, decoding and characterising life’s experiences, art and leadership have for long intermingled for persistence and growth. Since time immemorial, art has powered human thinking by providing inventive and stimulating ideas in the business world. Across industries, the finest business leaders are known to be practical dreamers with a persuasive point of view and clearly defined ideas and purposes. These qualities can also be attributed to successful artists. The other common threads that bind art and leadership are those of intricacy, diversity and abstractness, which can be used as examples, motivation and inspiration to drive solutions within the business realm.

Art, business and creativity: Within the corporate world it is no secret that businesses have typically been dominated by the analytical, logical, and organised left side of the brain. Up until now, many leaders haven’t fully explored their free-spirited right side of the brain that focuses on intuition, imagination and creativity. Through art, which uses both sides of the brain, leaders are now able to think in an abstract manner and come up with creative solutions.

Indulging in art as a means of self-expression can go a long way in sparking creative energies, providing inspiration and developing a leader’s personality to drive business results. While logical planning and its application will only be able to drive business to a certain point, keeping pace with an evolving business requires imagination and creativity which are the strengths of a good artist and leader.

Benefits of art for business leaders: Artists are known to be pioneers of invention and experimental by nature, making them innate leaders. Innovation in particular is based on thought and imagination, which when fused together have the potential to produce remarkable results and concepts. That said, innovation is not usually an easily exposed concept, rather, it is one which comes to the limelight in tandem with creativity. Art has the ability to refresh these aesthetic concepts in a person’s mind and push a leader to innovate and drive new ideas and possibilities as solutions to business challenges. Through their works, artists earn and enjoy a reputation for being risk-takers, known for using unorthodox techniques and styles. They are also known for being open to different perspectives in their works, making them natural leaders. These qualities, when incorporated in the corporate world will allow leaders to embrace new ideas and take risks. Across organisations, it is common for them to tend to adopt a conservative approach as they grow. Art has the power to help leaders eliminate the fear of failure or being judged and encourages them to take creative risks and rise with the scale of a business.

Artists are natural observers and pay close attention to detail. They have a knack for understanding concepts beyond a superficial level and making connections that others don’t. Business leaders who include art in their lives, can incorporate the same attributes in their professional dealings as well. Such traits will go a long way in enabling them to observe even the minutest of details and read between the lines, to deliver optimum results within their areas of operations.

Being able to relay a new narrative through their work is a skill that artists have mastered over time and is a vital quality among leaders. Artists know that branding is how you are perceived and every leader should work to develop this tool. No matter how good a product or service might be, it is the experience that counts. Leaders have the power to shape this experience by pushing a strong narrative and building a story around the product. Just as artists are able to tell compelling stories through their works, similarly, a good leader is able to develop the art of storytelling to entice audiences and ultimately grow the business.

One of the biggest challenges any business leader faces is that of infusing passion, congregating energies and stimulating change among his teams to work towards achieving their common goals. The role of art here is to bond and engage with them and assist them to connect with their passions.

As art is a medium that relies on communication to deliver a message, indulging in it can be a great form of expression and it can facilitate collaboration to solve challenges in the workplace.

As Pablo Picasso once said, “Inspiration exists, it has to find you working.” These words, when engraved in the mind and heart of a leader, can go a long way in creating a corporate culture driven by passion and the desire to do better at all times.

The writer is an artist, educator, art critic and co-founder of You Lead India Foundation. The views expressed are personal.