Leading and not leading

Gianpiero Petriglieri proposes treating careers as works of art.

Success in art is not just making a living or being famous and acclaimed. Those are consequences. Success is moving and being moved. It is opening vistas. Unsettling the status quo. Peeking beneath the veil of convention.

He reflects on what this means for leadership:

I witness the same mixture of excitement and anxiety among people who aspire to craft careers centered on their passion. Especially when they are faced with the prospect of becoming a “leader.” It is as if leading in a world in flux amplifies the dilemmas of living in a world in flux. We expect leaders, more than anyone else to express their authentic concerns and desires and, at the same time, to give voice to the concerns and desires of those they aspire to lead. We expect them to be fully committed to a purpose and community — but also to be constantly pushing for change.

Living in the space where there is both excitement and anxiety is an interesting challenge. I think it might be where life really is. Petriglieri puts his finger on a real paradox of leadership; it reminds me of the moment in meditation where you suddenly realise you’re in the gap, and in the realisation, you slip out of it. The moment you flatter yourself that you are leading, you aren’t.

Bonus link: another good piece by him: A lesson in engaged artistry

Leaders are most inspiring when their message is deeply personal and yet touches shared concerns—when what they do is intertwined with who they are and resonates with what followers are ready to hear and able to appreciate.

Hat tip: Suzan Grey

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