Leadership Is An Art Not A Science

My wife and I love to travel together. We have been fortunate to be able to visit some of the most beautiful places on earth. When we visit extraordinary places, my wife enjoys buying original art from local artists. On a Mediterranean cruise, about two years ago, we stopped on the incredibly gorgeous Greek Island of Santorini. (If you ever get a chance to go there… GO!) The painting above was acquired on that trip. It hangs on a prominent wall in our home.

If you look closely at the painting you will see the artist freely expressed her interpretation of the scenery from a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. On our trip, we walked along the sidewalk and found many artist displaying their own interpretation of the view. Some had more talent than others but none of them used “paint-by-numbers” formats. They took a blank canvas and different colors of paint and then used their talent to paint the beauty. I am sure all of the painters took much time and practice to hone their skill. If they used a “paint-by-numbers” format, all of the paintings would look pretty much the same. You can bet none of them would come close to the beauty displayed in this painting. In short, if they all look the same, none of them would be termed, great.

Leadership is much like art. It take years of trial and error, study, interpretation and finally skillful application for the greatness to evolve and emerge. Unfortunately, some managers think leadership has some secret formula, a secret sauce. “If I just check enough boxes, I will be a great leader!” There is no “paint-by-numbers” canvas for great leadership. If you or a manager you are reporting to, seem stiff, uncaring, cold and aloof, I encourage you and/or your manager to quit looking for the secret formula or the “paint-by-numbers” canvas. Here is the truth you must find for yourself….

Great leaders know how to feel their way to greatness. They care about the people they are leading so much that they spend time to get to know them. What motivates them? What inspires them? What do they need to excel? These great leaders were not born great. They earned the title of great leader through trial and error, persistence, hurt feelings, time alone in reflection, having the ability to admit their mistakes, being resilient, courageous and modeling self sacrifice and integrity.

Yep, leadership is an art, not a science. There are no shortcuts or secret formulas. Give up those false leadership prophets promising you to become a great leader in just 5 easy steps. Think about it. If there were shortcuts, secret formulas or just 5 easy steps, wouldn’t we have more great leaders??

Please leave me your comments and insights below. Until next time….. peace.

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