Artists rely on their ability to challenge our understanding of everyday reality. They put metaphors, sensuous details, rhythm and beauty in front of us and ask us to make sense of a new view of our world. Like artists, leaders inspire by using the power of language and images to create their world view. However, much of the writing on leadership is based on two areas of focus: the military and religion. They shape our images, words and metaphors. For example, we talk about strategic planning, about vision and mission. Although our references to military and religious worlds are not made consciously, they create a context for thinking and feeling about leadership.
David Whyte (1994) was one of the first writers to link poetry and leadership. He found that it touched the heart and the imagination in powerful ways. Why not seek out your favourite work of art – poetry, visual arts, music – and have it with you as a constant reminder that leadership and the arts are interwoven.
As we are considering other ways of exploring leadership and world views, Palmer is worthy of notice. He encourages us to think from another perspective:
“Spirituality is not primarily about values and ethics, not about exhortation to do right or live well. The spiritual traditions are primarily about reality. [They] are an effort to penetrate the illusions of the external world and to name its underlying truth, what it is, how it emerges, and how we relate to it.” (Palmer 1983)
So let me leave you with this question: what has spirituality got to do with leadership – if anything?
Copyright © Patricia Klinck – Photo credit: Julie Jenkins