MOMENT – is the what.

Art is everywhere and the definition of it is broadening by the minute. The traditionals exist like painting, sculpture, singing, drama, drawing, poetry, writing etc. The modern versions are spin-offs of the classics, like acting for movies, TV, Internet, or designs for brands, products and services. These modern platforms have broadened the canvass upon which artists can now create, but hidden within all the mediums and all the forms of art is a central theme that seems to endure time and technological advancement; it is the moment.

The moment is what artists of every persuasion, press to contain, present, leverage and expose. The more successfully an artist can portray a moment to the audience, the more powerful the artist is. Moments have power. They move us emotionally and they draw us in. Glance at a painting that captures a moment in a way that is relevant to you and all the other art becomes insignificant until you finish experiencing the moment that painting has captured for you. You become fully engaged in the moment. Lost in it. It could be about yesterday, it could be about tomorrow – but it has your full attention and it compels us to remain until the emotion and the experience loosen their grip enough for reality to intrude.

Art is the ability to define or express a moment with such clarity, interpretation and conviction that it draws you in. The moment, is the what.

CREATIVITY – is the how.

Creativity is essentially how the artists compels us. What she/he compels us with is a combination of medium and story and moment. How the artist compels us is a matter of creativity. In fact it could be said that without creativity, the moment is just an historic freeze-frame. A black & white portrayal of a moment devoid of any emotional attachment or experience, lacking all artistic portrayal and story telling. It would be devoid of any compulsion and lacking the ability to engage.

It is creativity that chooses this angle over that angle, this color over that color, this texture over that texture. In short it is very intentional. In the mind of the artist, creativity is the means through which the viewer will be moved. It is the tool that is used to bring the moment to life and without the moment, there is no art. Creativity is the intentional and purposeful way the artist chooses to connect with the viewer.

LEADERSHIP – is the who.

I think leadership essentially surrounds the concepts of who. Just as in art, if you remove the moment or the creativity, you no longer have art – in leadership if you remove the people, you no longer have leadership. Since leadership is all about the people and art and creativity is also for people, perhaps leadership can learn from Art?

Could leadership need a ‘moment’, just like art does? I would say YES. Artistic moments are finite, measurable in time and space, emotional and impactful. Leadership is that which facilitates a finite, measurable and impactful event. If it is emotional along the way, then it further engages those involved and compels them to more of the same, increasing commitment and alignment. Artists go to great lengths to portray a moment with staggering clarity, so there is no confusion (to the viewer) about the moment. Leaders can do the same in their leadership by bringing focused clarity (to the team) so that there is no confusion about what moment is being pursued.This is often called ‘outcome’ or objective based leadership.

What about creativity? Some would say it has a better leadership fit than a moment does, yet as leaders I don’t think we pay as much attention to this component. The secret behind leadership creativity or ‘how’ you lead, is the intention. Artists press viewers to go a certain way by their creativity. They intentionally choose one shade of red over another, because it serves their intentional purpose of getting the viewer where they want them to go.

Leaders should use the same focused intention when leading a team toward an outcome. That means leaders must know all they can about all the colors of the palette in front of them. In other words, leaders must be very familiar with the circumstances of their surroundings. All the forces at play at any given time, pull in one direction or another. Choosing a particular shade of red, or in leadership terms, choosing one particular path over another, should be done because it leads somewhere on purpose.

Don’t ever lead by default or convenience, you will not find emotional engagement there.

Turns out, leaders and artists have much in common. They are both pushing toward a clear moment. They both use creativity to specifically draw the people they are engaging to that moment. And in both cases the recipient of all the effort is people.

Two questions then:

  • Is the ‘moment’ you are leading toward clear to everyone?  Have you asked?
  • How could you more intentionally and creatively work toward that clear outcome?