The AMA Handbook of Leadership

By Marshall Goldsmith; John Baldoni et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 21

The Arts and Leadership

Nancy J. Adler

“The MFA is the new MBA…. An arts degree is now
perhaps the hottest credential in the world of business.”

—DANIEL PINK,Harvard Business Review

Twenty-first-century society yearns for a leadership of possibility, a leadership based more on hope, aspiration, and innovation than on the replication of historical patterns of constrained pragmatism. Luckily, such a leadership is possible today. For the first time in history, companies can work backward from their aspirations and imagination rather than forward from their past. According to Gary Hamel, author of Leading the Revolution, “The gap between what can be imagined and what can be accomplished has never been smaller.”1 The defining question—and opportunity—for this century is, “Now that we can do anything, what do we want to do?”2

Responding to that question demands anticipatory creativity. Designing options worthy of implementation calls for levels of inspiration and passionate creativity that have been more the domain of artists and artistic processes than of most managers. As Harvard business professor Rob Austin well understands, “The economy of the future will be about creating value and appropriate forms, and no one knows more about the processes for doing that than artists.”3

Adapted from Nancy Adler, “The Arts & Leadership: Now That
We Can Do Anything, What Will We Do?” Academy of Management
Learning and Education Journal
5, no. 4 (2006): 486–499.

-219-

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