Leadership Paint

The effects of our leadership are not isolated and linear, but rather cumulative: aggregated effects, generated over time, through our actions. I was struck by this in a conversation with my friend Chris, in a little cafe in New York yesterday. As we sat, talking about leadership, about trust, about change, i looked at the recycled timbers behind him, carrying fragments of old paint, and recognised that these are not scars, not incidental detail: they are central to the effect. The patina, the history, defines the current effect.

Leadership Paint

When we run programmes, offer leadership development, we do not paint people a new shade of blue: we add a thin coat to a complex layered structure. Possibly we have our view of development wrong: perhaps our mindset should be one that cuts across, through the layers, rather than focussed upon the most recent?

I notice this when painting: watercolours mix, you add a new colour and it blends with the older ones. There is no layering or separation, it’s a one dimensional medium. But oils behave differently: you can create layers, a stratigraphy of colours, literally building one upon the other.

Perhaps we should even view leadership in terms of the evolved picture: instead of viewing our leadership as the most recent colour, we could view it in terms of the chipped and scratched layers of paint. ‘This is the leader that i am tgoday, but these are the colours of my leadership as i made my way here’. We are defined as much by our mistakes, our failures, as we are by our current successes. Perhaps this even relates to the humility of leadership: a willingness to share not our polished present, but our battered past?

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
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2 Responses to Leadership Paint

  1. Pingback: Islands of Belief | Julian Stodd's Learning Blog

  2. Pingback: Pragmatic Dissonance: Communities of Difference and the Limitations of Consensus | Julian Stodd's Learning Blog

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