Leadership and arts

The link between arts and leadership

Velites blog

The importance of arts for leadership

Some now and then I visit an art museum: for fun and to relax. But also, to learn and see new things, to get inspiration and to stay curious. Art is for me a tool for personal growth. In this article I will explain the importance of art in leadership development.

Why visiting a museum?

People are visiting a museum for several reasons. Besides gaining knowledge, a lot has to do with mindfulness as well. The museum is a healing place. People are visiting a museum to relax, to energize and to reflect. Next to that, research shows that a museum visit reduces our stress level. We can relate this to four types of museum experiences:

  1. Objective experiences: seeing the things exhibited;
  2. Cognitive experiences: gaining knowledge or new insides;
  3. Introspective experiences: to imagine and fantasize about different times and places, to think about the meaning and of certain events in a specific context;
  4. Social experiences: to interact with other people.

Thinking, Observation and Imagination

Museum experiences help you in your leadership growth. Especially art museums are able to let us experience the world and to observe really well. Instead of focusing on our thinking, museums trigger our imagination. It is this imagination that is so important in leadership.

Artistic expressions talk to users via observation and imagination. All the time, the bigger picture of the world is taken into account by the user. An example of this is you reading a book to get a better understanding of the world you live in. A visit to a theater helps you as well to explain what happens in the ‘real world’. And lastly, when you visit a cinema, you’ll use the movie to check if what you see in the real world matches your understanding of it.

Imagination contains more than just observation. Imagination helps people to see the world differently or to see a different world. In this case arts helps to check if your view of the world matches other conceptions. Imagination is required in a democracy, to enable as many people possible to compare their view of the world to that of others.

Arts and play

The arts are often understood in terms of play. This is not only related to the creation process of the artists, but also to the way we experiencing the arts. According to Huizinga play happens outside the norms of reasoning, duties and truth. The same counts for the arts. For artists it is important to have a group of followers who know how to classify the work, how to understand the work and how to admire the work. In this process it is the esoteric factor that gives room for play.

Arts and leadership growth

Imagination is a pure right-brain faculty. The same counts for inspiration, which is the ability to tap into the higher self for the common good. Therefore, in a world where our right-brain activities become more important, both faculties help us in our need to activate this side of our brain. From a leadership perspective, the different experiences help you to train your leadership skills as well. The new insides you gain by going to a museum or by making a painting, the imagination that you get and the social interaction are examples of that.