5 Ways to Make Our Leadership Work More Like Art

Screen Shot 2014-06-28 at 1.58.00 PM“If it’s work, we try to figure out how to do less. If it’s art, we try to figure out how to do more.” ~ Seth Godin

Our work can either be “work” or it can be “art.” But what exactly does that mean? What is art? To that question, Godin adds, “Art isn’t only a painting. Art is anything that’s creative, passionate, and personal. And great art resonates with the viewer, not only with the creator.”

For people like myself, though, education has not only been a career but a life’s passion. It’s what we live and breath, and, like Godin says, the art of this work not only resonates with the “creator” – ourselves –  but also the “viewer” – the people we serve as leaders.

What can we do to make our leadership work more like art?  It’s not easy, especially in the current climate of over-testing, misguided accountability and ever-shrinking resources. But if we extend ourselves – even a little bit – we can do this, and make a difference. Here are 4 (somewhat sequential) ideas to get started.

  1. Find at least one close collaborator….more than one is even better. Educational leadership these days is complex and uncertain. There is so much to know that no one person can know everything. The best and most gratifying work comes when we don’t go solo, but create a synergy with equally passionate minds. You’ll find these collaborators in the traditional workplace such as a school but also virtually online.
  2.  Embrace technology, particularly social media, as a tool for connection. Online connections can feed your art with a nearly constant flow of ideas, resources and learning. Once connected to others via social media, you’ll see your work amplified and resonating with others you never knew had similar challenges and passions. Take that learning back to your workplace collaborators and watch what happens.
  3. Stay on top of “edge” thinking by reading, listening and learning about “disruptive” trends in education. Subscribe to blogs, set time aside daily to dip your mind into your Twitter feed and check out new books on Amazon. One of my favorite blogs for “edge” thinking is Educating Modern Learners. While some of their best content is behind a paywall, quality free content is also available.
  4. Write about what you read. Start a blog or send your thinking out to Twitter. Or both. Share what you are learning and doing with the world. Writing allows you to process your thinking in unique ways. As you develop your thinking around the “edges” of education, use your emerging vision to guide your leadership practice. Provide the space for others to tinker with unconventional ideas and push back, challenging you to think even more deeply about the practicality of changes in your unique environment.

When you embrace ideas such as these and take action, you will be spinning artful leadership in no time – creative, passionate and personal. You’ll know it because you’ll want to do more…and more…and more! More importantly, the work will not only resonate with you, but with those you serve – your teachers, students and parents.

What other ideas can you share to make our leadership more like art?


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