Should Business Leaders Act More like Artists?

At first blush, I”m not sure I agree with all of these– they seem to be wishful thinking. The fact that many artists actually cannot do any of these things is what makes them good artists and bad business leaders.

Artists constantly collaborate. The example given was the common occurrence of an exhibition with multiple artists showing together, or the so-called “group show.” Even in the context of a solo show, the artist works with the gallery owner, the curator, the framers, the installers, the lighting person, the publicist to bring their vision to life. Every exhibition is a collaboration to the nth degree.

Ok, I think this is stretching it a bit as a model for management. There are diva artistes as much as diva CEOs. “Collaboration”  is necessary for any successful activity, solo or otherwise.

Artists are talented communicators. The whole point of a work of art is to communicate something — a thought, an idea, a feeling, a vision. More explicitly, the artist frequently gives a talk to explain the thought process behind the artwork. Engaging the audience in a meaningful, expansive dialogue is often critical to the exhibition’s success.

I’ll buy this one.

Artists learn how to learn together. Perhaps the reason why artists collaborate and socialize so well is that they learn in the studio model — ten or more students in the same room for hours on end. Bonded together in a personal space of intimate self-expression, they come into their own through the familial ties of the studio setting. When interviewed recently about the differences in her education at Brown and at RISD, one student who is getting a dual degree from both institutions said, “At RISD there’s a lot of learning from your peers. Brown (in the classes I’ve taken so far anyway) is about listening and note-taking in class.”

But do they socialize well with others outside of their studio model?  And have you ever heard “Familiarity breeds contempt”?

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