Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Art of Balance, the Art of Leadership.

In leadership, balance is critical,
but balance is hard.

Balance is an art,
perhaps art aids balance.

I've written previously about the importance of balance in leadership. Lead Quietly's carnival of balance includes the following posts from our archive:

Keep it balanced, in 3D where I implore leaders to strike a three dimensional balance between Business, Leadership, and Personal Dimensions.

The Maturity and Balance of Quiet Leadership that describes the role of maturity as you strive to maintain balance.

Balance like Obama - A Lesson in Leadership Balance. Although, not a political endorsement, in this post I admire the statements made by Barrack Obama about balance and the challenge of balance, a challenge that exists in politics, business, and life. Balance is hard.

This past week a friend sent me an article that appears in the Academy of Management Learning & Education, December 2006 entitled, The Arts & Leadership: Now That We Can Do Anything, What Will We Do?

In the article, author Nancy Adler of McGill University proposes that the positive influence of the arts on leadership and business is significant and critical. Here are some citations that I found insightful.
The time is right for the cross-fertilization of the arts and leadership.

The scarce resource is innovative designers, not financial analysts.

Constant, intuition-based innovation is required to respond to discontinuous change; without it, no business can succeed in the 21st century....Actors, dancers, and musicians—performing as ensembles—have developed team-based collaborative skills to a much greater extent than have most managers.

As the business environment more frequently calls upon managers to respond to unpredicted and unpredictable threats and opportunities, the ability to improvise increasingly determines organizations’ effectiveness. "Managers and management students don’t understand how to create on cue, how to innovate reliably on a deadline. . . . artists are much better at this
The arguments that Adler makes are pretty compelling.

OK, let me confess, I am a student of the arts. My undergraduate degree is in Music Education, I was a music teacher in my first career. Despite the fact that currently I am pretty inactive musically, I have always thought that my music background brought creativity, dimension and balance to my thinking and work. Adler's article drew additional links between arts and leadership and management. It gives me cause to embrace the impact that music has had in my life.

It also causes me to value what my artistic coworkers and teammates bring to my team and organization.

It reminds me of a phrase I used to tell the parents of my music students, "It's never too late to learn music."

And finally, this insight motivates me to continue the reminders that I have to make to my children to practice their music.

Art adds wonderful balance to leadership and business.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly.


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