As an artist who has worked with top entrepreneurs and executives to enhance their leadership skills, author Erik Wahl has come to view leadership as an art form. He believes leaders, just like artists, need to tap into something deeply creative within themselves to stay ahead of the crowd, avoid mediocrity, and inspire those around them. Below are three arts the best leaders cultivate, according to the author:
The Art of Provocation: Some people wait until they are provoked by forces around them to change. But the best leaders—from Joan of Arc to Martin Luther King to Steve Jobs—provoke themselves first, and then the people around them, in order to constantly imagine new possibilities. They instigate change even when it doesn’t seem necessary. It may involve rattling the cages around long-standing beliefs and institutions. But that is precisely what makes them great leaders.
The Art of Intuition: There are things we know to be true and things we sense are true. Most of us tend to lean primarily on what we already know, in order to solve our problems and make decisions. But the best leaders are those who realize that what we sense—those intuitive possibilities—are just as valuable as our current knowledge. Most of us have problems balancing our logic and our instinct. But the truth is that intuition and intellect are not in opposition to each other. Intellect without intuition is a smart person without impact; intuition without intellect is a spontaneous person without progress.
The Art of Maintaining Conviction: “Don’t ask what the world needs,” said the great civil rights leader, Howard Thurman. “Ask yourself what makes you come alive and go do that.” There’s something compelling about a person with conviction, whether or not you agree with everything he or she represents. But conviction is rare, because in our longing for stability and security, we often make the mistake of looking outside ourselves for direction when we should be looking inside. The good news is that conviction is something that can be cultivated. But it has to start with you. What makes you come alive? The key is to find something that you feel you’re meant to do and give yourself to it.
We all have the innate capacity to develop these three qualities. The key is to start, instead of waiting until life demands something of us.
About the Author: Erik Wahl is the author of the bestselling book, “UNTHINK: Rediscover Your Creative Genius.” He is an entrepreneur, graffiti artist, and successful speaker who helps people unleash their creativity to achieve superior levels of performance. For more information, visit theartofvision.com