The Alchemy of Leadership: Creative Leadership Development

Being a leader in the 21st century requires a new set of skills to thrive in a world that is increasingly volatile, uncertain and complex. Relying solely on problem-solving skills is insufficient.

Today’s leaders must also cultivate creativity and the ability to navigate complexity in order to thrive. One of the best ways to learn these skills is through the arts—not to become an artist, but as a way of thinking and perceiving.

An artful leader must know how to lead people creatively. Since all great art pushes boundaries beyond established norms, it can teach us about leadership, empathy, ambiguity, change, courage, and creativity. It makes sense therefore to learn principles and practices from the worlds of art & design, and apply them to business.

The arts take us on adventures in creative expression that help us safely explore unknown territory, overcome fear, and take conceptual risks.

Art-making has an alchemical effect on the imagination. Artistic processes create a crucible for transforming leaden thinking into the gold of wisdom.

Art-based activities can be used strategically to create safety, build trust, find shared values, shift perceptions and generate breakthrough ideas — by combining right-brain imagination with left-brain logic and analysis. Insights from art experiences inform leadership and inspire breakthrough ideas for innovation.

Explore the arts as an interdisciplinary catalyst for transformation in culture, creativity, identity, and your own personal development as a leader.

The Alchemy of Leadership:
Shifting from a Problem-focused Model
to Artful Creation



Art provides an opportunity for kaleidoscopic thinking. Each time we shift the lens of our perceptions, we gain new perspectives — and new opportunities for innovation. Arts based activities include drawing, painting, storytelling, theatre improvisation, music, photography and poetry.

Art can be used to penetrate the “heart questions” making it easier to discuss strategic dilemmas. Arts-based dialogue teaches leaders to look at an issue from multiple perspectives, make sense of the world we inhabit.

Artful reflection helps us sense patterns, decode complexity, make sense of the world in which we live, and explore new possibilities.

The art experience enhances our abilities to think in new and fresh ways about existing reality through critical reflection, reframing, and context shifting. The blank canvass becomes a metaphor for discovering the white space of opportunities.

Visual dialogues help people dig below the surface layer of perception, examine the figure/ground of underlying assumptions and evoke fresh thinking.

Theatre improvisation gives leaders rehearsal space to try out new ideas. Through Improv that we can observe the importance of trust, reliance, and individual contribution, as well as the vitality of learning from mistakes.

We can discover creative insights by building, shaping and sculpting ideas into prototypes to test concepts.

Alchemy of Leadership Workshops give participants the opportunity to practice these skills:

  • Inquiry that provokes new insights, connections, possibilities, and directions
  • Visual Literacy and Observation: The ability to observe, think critically and make meaning from images and information presented
  • Cross-pollinating ideas: Thinking together, across cultures, networks and disciplines
  • Connecting: Linking ideas that aren’t obviously related. Connecting the unconnected to produce new ideas
  • Experimenting intellectually and experientially. Learning by doing. Rehearsing “what if” options that lead to meaningful insights
  • Active Listening: Listening to learn, rather than gather ammunition for an argument
  • Reflecting through painting, contemplation, journal writing and dialogue to integrate theory with practice, and enhance learning, including learning from mistakes
  • Designing strategies, actions and viable solutions.

Each activity is tied to an organizational objective/challenge to stimulate fresh ideas about real-world challenges.

Alchemy of Leadership: Learning Outcomes & Benefits:

  • How art and design can improve business performance
  • Develop whole-brain thinking skills: Integrate Artistic and relational intelligence with  analytical and operational intelligence.
  • Draw on artistic sensibilities to lead and run your organization.
  • Insights about coping with chaos, ambiguity, and complexity
  • Practical creativity techniques for individuals and groups
  • Creativity and innovation skills development
  • Improve communications and foster an appreciation for diverse and pluralistic points of view.
  • Paint a compelling vision of the future, and design a plan for action

Programs are customized to suit your organizational requirements, and include coaching support.
Designed for :

  • C-level executives
  • Directors, Managers & Team Leaders

See also:

Find out more about the Alchemy of Leadership.

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