For many years, we’ve treated leadership as an acquirable skill in the same way as we teach children art. We give them the tools, explain the theory and expect the magic to happen. For a long time, it worked well enough. Progress in the last few decades has been through efficiency and automation leveraged by good management practices and for the most part, leadership training was a good way to knock some of the rough edges off harsher management styles.
That’s a long way however from artisinal leadership. Leadership founded on a love of both the art of leadership, and whatever it is the organisation delivers. In these areas, leadership is an attitude and a disposition, powered by curiosity and a sense of the infinite game – the pursuit of something important for its own sake.
As the quantitative skills that got us to now are increasingly replaced by the “C”s that are needed to take us to next – compassion, clarity, connection, collaboration and creation – we need more from our leaders. An infusion of possibility. A glimpse of something beautiful. Qualities that harness our senses and our heart as much as our logic and intellect.
It’s hard work. It involves becoming fascinated by what we do, no matter how mundane. It needs us to access our inner three year old. Three year olds don’t find anything mundane.
If we wait for our calling, we might wait a very long wait. We have to look for it where we are. Once we understand that, and exercise the discipline to look for the interest and beauty in what we do, then surprising things can happen. We may not fall in love with our job, but we learn to look at things differently, and as that happens we see with new eyes, and open ourselves up to that which might be our calling.
As the mundane disappears, eaten by technology, we would do well to find an area where we can absorb ourselves and apply our abilities to create things of beauty. To bring out the artisan in us.
When we have our calling, leadership follows naturally.