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Reflective Journal on The Illusion of Leadership: Directing Creativity in Business and the Arts by Piers Ibbotson Report (Assessment)

Creativity — Myths and legends

Chapter summary. Reflecting on the area his leadership skills are applied to and observing comparatively scarce information and discussion of it by those who are directly involved in creativity, Ibbotson points out three principal characteristics inherent in creative process. Irrespective of the creative sphere, creative process involves a background that stimulates innovation, constant change and development of ideas, and certain boundaries which the creator strives to overcome.

Creativity is driven by one’s desire to grasp the incomprehensible, to achieve the impossible and to cognize the obscure; the complexity of the task imparts a large share of contradictoriness to the process of search which often results in multiple possible solutions. Withstanding the seeming chaos of the creative process, the leader displays persistence, singlemindedness and will for a change in order to achieve the desired objective. (Ibbotson, 2008)

Critique. To a large degree, Ibbotson’s vision of creative process agrees with that generally accepted by researchers. For example, Benack, Basseches, and Swan (1989) indicate that however elusive, complex and diversified the understanding of creativity might be, there are certain characteristics commonly quoted in relation to creativity with the most important qualities being those of novelty and value.

Novelty in creation is caused, firstly, by the necessity of finding an answer to a problem yet unsolved, i.e. to respond to an unclear issue; secondly, by diversion from traditional way of thinking that failed to provide a satisfactory solution; and thirdly, by the necessity to form contradictive relations between things that were previously disconnected (Benack, Basseches, & Swan, 1989).

In tune with Ibbotson’s ideas, George, Sims, McLean, and Mayer (2007) remark that with the view of successfully managing all the complexities of the creative process, true leaders necessarily possess “a passion for their purpose” and “practice their values consistently” (p. 130).

Personal responses. The consideration of leadership with regard to creativity conducted by Ibbotson appears to be especially topical nowadays: the tendency of management turning into a kind of art was observed already by Follett (1987), and the necessity of creativity for a successful development of a business is indisputable (Jackson & Parry, 2008).

In such context, Ibbotson’s view of leader as a director who shapes the process of change in the most optimal way and inspires rather than dictates any further course of events attracts by its powerful motivating impulse. Contrary to the standard perception of leaders as unique phenomena, the idea of everyone as a potential leader involved in the process of making changes strikes by its simplicity and attracts by the endless prospects it opens for people to get beyond the habitual routine they are so much used to.

The illusion of leadership

Chapter summary. One of the main challenges for a creative leader is seen by Ibbotson (2008) in achieving the right balance between creativity and innovation on the one hand, and time and budget on the other hand. To direct the creativity of others, the leader should possess authority, respect and trust of his colleagues, and provide timely advice and coaching for the members of his team improving their performance.

In this aspect, the role of creative constraints cannot be overestimated; Ibbotson (2008) contrasts these constraints provoking creative responses from the group, to more traditional target system failing to provide a motivating background, and insists on the beneficial effect of the former in modern business environment.

Critique. In terms of leadership theory, Ibbotson’s view of directing process complies mostly with the coaching leadership style. As described by Goleman, Boyatzis, and McKee (2004), a coaching leader builds a resonance within the organization by connecting the employees’ aspiration to the goals of the organization; such attitude is observed to have a highly positive impact on the company climate and to foster the improvement of the employees’ performance by creating long-term motivation and capabilities.

Similarly to Ibbotson (2008), Goleman et al. (2004) remark on the beneficial power of the coaching leadership and express a concern that, however efficient such leadership may be, in modern period of high time pressure leaders tend to neglect this style pleading lack of time.

Contrasted to the authoritarian style of leadership that does not interfere with the personalities of the employees, a coaching leader focuses on personal development of his subordinates and on evoking their positive response to the task that generally yields better results since it allows the employees to view accomplishment of the task not only as achieving their boss’s interests but also as meeting their own aspirations (Goleman et al., 2004).

Personal responses. Bearing in mind that in modern time participants in business tend to reveal a more personalistic attitude to what they are doing and naturally strive for personal benefit to a much bigger extent than for the general success of the company, it appears vital that leaders demonstrate a more motivating style of company management.

Despite its time-consuming characteristics, coaching leadership style appears the way to go since it provides the personnel with the necessary motivation and a feeling of personal importance in the overall process of achieving objectives. Moreover, in this style of leadership, employees are additionally inspired to demonstrate higher results by viewing the goals of the company as their own; and for this purpose the right framing of tasks is vital, leaving employees with a broad field to act and to display their creativity and initiative.

Project-managing a work of art

Chapter summary. The process of staging a play is subdivided by Ibbotson (2008) into several stages depending on the key participants; while maximum creativity is required within each stage, it should be reduced to minimum when transitioning from stage to stage in order to stay within the limits of time and budget.

The success of each stage depends on the creative input of all its participants on the one hand, and on the controlling and encouraging role of the director on the other hand. In order to introduce innovation, directors should demonstrate flexibility of approach and readiness for unexpected, at the same time making use of their communicative skills for guiding the creative process in the optimal way.

Critique. On the whole, Ibbotson’s vision of project-management coincides with that widely accepted in business. Since a project is a process the contents of which is opposed to that of normal routine, it possesses certain peculiar characteristics that should be taken into account for its successful accomplishment. In order to fit into the limits of time and budget, the leader should perform proper definition and control of the project, achieving a proper coordination between them (M. C. Thomsett, 2009).

However, the specific nature of Ibbotson’s project does not allow for meeting a third typical constraint of a project mentioned by M. C. Thomsett (2009), namely, its result; in arts the result is claimed by Ibbotson (2008) to be unpredictable and sometimes unexpected, therefore it is excluded from the list of possible constraints. Among the most crucial characteristics of an efficient project manager, M. C. Thomsett (2009) lists communication skills that allow individual approach to employees and acknowledge everyone’s input in the project.

This point of view is also supported by R. Thomsett (2002), who emphasizes the art of successful project management as “managing creative individuals and focusing their creativeness toward adding value for clients”; he views the key secret of project management in viewing the project as collective work, never actually “owning” it and focusing more on the process of the project realization than on the project itself (p. 335).

Personal responses. To a large degree, the vision of project as a complex system that needs proper balancing between the desired creativity and innovation on the one hand and the available time and budget on the other hand appears optimal for the purpose of successful project management.

However, it is noteworthy that even under conditions of creative project, e.g. staging a play, the project manager should still possess at least a general idea of the possible result he and his team are striving for, since that would impart more organization and clearer guidelines to the project completion. It is beyond doubt that the improvisational nature of theatre rehearsals inevitably leads to changes in the initial concept of the production, but the original director’s vision nevertheless plays a key role in the actors’ work.

Great directing: A case study

Chapter summary. Supporting his view of a successful director as that who observes intensely but does not interfere in the creative process too much, Ibbotson (2008) exemplifies this in a case he was involved in as an actor. The director’s behavior struck his as totally atypical, since unlike her predecessors she did not impose her interpretation of the play on the actors, instead letting them explore and discover the drama themselves.

She remained a dispassionate observer who motivated the actors not negatively (since she never blamed them for predictable failure) but positively, picking out sparkles of success and remarking favourably on them. Her “quiet strength of personality” together with taciturn undivided attention to the rehearsal process motivated the actors much more than the standard monitoring and surveillance techniques used in business (Ibbotson, 2008, p. 33).

Critique. The type of leader described and favoured by Ibbotson (2008) due to the attitude of paying attention and speaking little has also attracted attention of modern management theories. According to the chronological classification provided by Clegg, Kornberger, and Pitsis (2005), this is a postmodern leader type, described as “servant to network, to people who, in turn, serve customers” (p. 249).

Postmodern leaders tend to use positive psychology instead of authoritarian tools, and Ibbotson’s leader is no exception — she is claimed to never use negative criticism against the actors. Moreover, there are elements of modern leader inherent in the director described: she “does the gaze on everyone” and appears as a final evaluator of the actors’ work (Clegg et al., 2005, p. 249). However, her authority is never redundant, which makes it impossible to characterize her as fully modern.

Motivating the actors to achieve success, the director uses both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards: on the one hand, the actors derive satisfaction from the opportunity for self-expression and individual research in the play; on the other hand, the director provides verbal encouragement without actually judging the actors, and that appears a desired reward for all the individual effort of the actors (Flamholz 1996).

Personal responses. With due understanding of the value of performance monitoring and surveillance in control of the project, it should be remarked that this traditional approach can be subject to certain alteration and revision in accordance with the requirements of the time.

For achieving better results in projects accomplishment, it may turn out reasonable to bring forth the power of individual research and input performed by each of the project participants; the awareness of their individual significance and creative potential will stimulate the employees to take effort to demonstrate the best they can therefore increasing the overall success of the enterprise. In this sense, Ibbotson’s (2008) view of the leader as a stimulating observer rather than an authoritative dictator, appears to be especially relevant.

Hierarchy and status games

Chapter summary. An ideal example of teamwork is seen by Ibbotson (2008) in the case when every member of the team demonstrates the same commitment to the task and acknowledges his or her own equality and significance in the process of achieving the objective. Mutual professional trust based on emotional discipline is vital; and it is not infrequent that success is hampered by misinterpretation of status signals as emotional.

To avoid such delusion, it is significant to differentiate between one’s hierarchy in the organization and one’s status, which can be situational, and to be able to switch from high-status to low-status behavior and back depending on the task performed. Tensions that emerge between leaders and subordinates, colleagues, men and women frequently stem from the “status anxiety” that prevents people from adequate assessment and appropriate behavior in situations requiring varied approach (Ibbotson, 2008, p. 50).

Critique. Throughout the history of mankind, the role of hierarchy for organizing and directing any corporate action has been undoubtedly crucial; Newfield (1998) remarks on the ever growing role of hierarchy in companies of the modern time and emphasizes the aggressive character of hierarchy wars people lead to achieve professional success.

Schein (2004) observes the nature of organizations and management to be “intrinsically hierarchical” since signs of hierarchy can be observed at every level, from communication within the company to the office architecture and planning ;he calls hierarchy “the measure of status and success and the primary means of maintaining control” (p. 199).

Such vision of hierarchy marks a divergence of opinions on it: Ibbotson (2008) views hierarchy not in terms of control proper, but as an instrument of “getting things done” (p. 50); moreover, he voices the necessity of differentiation between hierarchy and status, claiming that hierarchy is an objective characteristics and status is the one that people assume themselves, and thus are able to switch from low to high status and back without changing their hierarchical position.

Personal responses. Though traditional views on status and hierarchy tend to equate the two notions, Ibbotson (2008) provides a persuasive explanation of why they should be differentiated. On many occasions it may prove efficient to conduct according to a status that does not directly correspond to one’s hierarchical position. Therefore, an additional research is necessary to estimate the specific cases when either low-status or high-status behavior is most proper and beneficial.

Masks and the sense of self

Chapter summary. Exploring the human nature and the way people operate the world, Ibbotson (2008) contrasts two views on life: on the one hand, quite recently, each person has been claimed to have an own “authentic self”, one’s true nature to be discovered and practiced (p. 54); on the other hand, one’s life can be viewed as a succession of roles and masks that one wears depending on the situation.

The success of operating the masks lies not just in the way one understands the mask, but mostly in the way this mask is perceived by the audience. Life is about delivering effective performances and wearing masks that are appropriate to the context; self-expression in possible through the mask not by forcing one’s own will but rather by observing what unfolds throughout the given role, and artful role-play results in an illusion of power.

Critique. In the context of performance, the parallels between leadership and stage acting are obvious: authority and power are characteristics that are delegated by the society to those who manage to play their leading role in a most convincing way. Jackson and Parry (2008) estimate drama and dramaturgy to be among the cornerstone concepts in leadership research; no matter how good one manages to imitate some behavior, it is the power of persuasion that one is acting as authentic self’ that matters for a successful leader.

“Leadership is drama” (Jackson and Parry, 2008, p. 111); and drama should be taught — therefore a whole range of educative workshops for leaders appear, focusing on, inter alia, role-play exercises and leadership simulations (Gill, 2006). The ability to learn leadership and not to be granted with it simply at birth is indicative of the illusory nature of power and authority mentioned by Ibbotson (2008).

Personal responses. Efficient leadership is not just a gift of nature, not simply a talent; it is a skill that can be practiced and improved. In order to refine the existing managing corps, it appears reasonable to reveal the essences of the art of acting and performance to the leaders.

The examples provided by Ibbotson (2008) testify to the fallibility of a popular belief that one should act according to the mysterious authentic self which is arduous to reveal and even more arduous to maintain due to the changeability of human nature; rather, one can achieve success by duly reincorporating into various appropriate models of behavior according to the situation guided by ethical principles and a sense of taste.

Creativity in groups

Chapter summary. The primarily objective of shaping an efficiently working team is to foster the potential creativity of each of its members. The main obstacle one faces at this stage is the variety in all kinds of the members’ characteristics, with experience, confidence being just few examples.

Due to this variety, status anxiety emerges which constitutes a major obstacle on the way to fruitful cooperation. To overcome it, Ibbotson (2008) advises employing a series of exercises which promote trust and tolerance among the team and develops the practice of co-creation that is unduly neglected in the modern business practice. Suspending one’s status, accepting and exploring the others’ ideas, freely expressing one’s own improvised fancies foster ensemble working and promote the desired creativity at workplace.

Critique. At modern leadership trainings especial attention is paid to the skills and techniques mentioned by Ibbotson (2008) with regard to group creativity. Thus, for example, Anderson, Ford, and Hamilton (1998) indicate that most inconveniences stem from the difficulty of suspending one’s status because it is so deeply integrated into one’s vision of oneself; therefore they advise to regularly perform self-control of emotions and judgements in order to prevent premature reactions that do not lead to any positive results.

Another aspect of leadership, the art of improvisation is considered by Denhardt and Denhardt (2006) to be crucial for becoming more effective and more creative; moreover, in case with leadership, improvisation “is never solo”, since it presupposes its implementation in a broader social context (p. 129). In tune with Ibbotson’s (2008) vision of improvisation importance, Koppett (2001) outlines a whole range of skills developed by “improv” practice, ranging from trust and spontaneity to the art of listening and non verbal communication (p. 6).

Personal responses. Since leadership cannot exist separately from the groups the leader heads, it becomes of extreme significance to learn the maximum cooperation possible both among the group members and between the leader and the group.

Similarly to the way children manage to organize their games in a most beneficial way for all the participants, adults have to ‘recollect’ their childhood experience of improvisation, cooperation and flexible negotiation that is open to suggestion and free from any ridiculous ‘adult’ fears that do not promote success but only hinder the progress of cooperation.

Creativity, innovation and leadership

Chapter summary. According to Ibbotson (2008), no creativity is possible by a solitary genius: every innovation introduced is based on contact, dialogue, and/or cooperation between experts of different experience and knowledge.

In an organization such cooperation standardly takes place according to a widespread scheme, a hierarchical organizational scheme which separates people according to the area of their expertise. A more productive in Ibbotson’s opinion concentric organization of the theatre allows understanding the real players in the vital processes and involving them into efficient action.

The management that is in total control often does not reflect the needs of the organization as such, since the key employees occupy too low positions to be invited to important meetings. Due to demands of time, modern business meetings are characterized by “fake creativity” since the ideas presented there are firstly chosen according to a rigid agenda, and secondly implemented too soon without due discussion and elaboration (Ibbotson, 2008, pp. 83–84).

Critique. The issue of improper organizational vision of modern business raised by Ibbotson (2008) finds evidence in the official documentation of the organizations (cf., for example, University of Graz, 2009). The strict hierarchical division between different strata of the personnel ascribes certain status behavior to each of the staff members and prevents the key figures from active participation in the organizational processes generally harming the overall success of the enterprise.

Together with the necessity for the balance of powers and the importance of hierarchy within the organization, the recent notion of co-leadership might appear productive, since it presupposes multiple leadership depending on the peculiarity of the task performed (Jackson & Parry, 2008).

Personal responses. Surviving the current economic crisis, the organizations are going through tough times that prove to be a litmus paper for testing the ability of the management to cooperate and collaborate with their subordinates.

Cases are not infrequent when the leading tier of an organization tends to move away from the employees, dictating its decisions based more on guesswork than on the actual needs of the company. Such situations signals a certain managerial crisis; better results can be achieved involving key employees from lower tiers of the organization since they possess information that is not always available to occupants of the managerial offices.

Live communication: The business of theater

Chapter summary. One of the most characteristic features of human communication nowadays is seen by Ibbotson (2008) in the dominance of visual signals over verbal ones. People are prone not to listen in details, driving most of information from microscopic body signals that are not always consciously realized by their interlocutors. It is the task for a successful communicator to become aware of one’s body and its signals and to feel at ease even when mass attention is turned at one.

The one who sends visual or verbal signals should be aware of the fact that the audience does not always interpret them the way they are meant, and thus such signals should be appropriately shaped and adjusted within the two most widespread communicative styles: the more democratic ensemble promoting co-creation of sense, and the more dictatorial performance aimed at unambiguous personal impact (Ibbotson, 2008).

Critique. It has already become general knowledge that actions speak louder than words: posture, gesture, mimics, voice — all those factors often create a more powerful impact on the audience than the speech itself. The meaning implied by the speaker or doer may frequently be misinterpreted not only due to different perception of ideas by different people but also due to cultural peculiarities of the verbal and non-verbal language (Ribbens & Thompson, 2001).

In terms of business, efficient presentations play one of the crucial roles for the overall success of the enterprise; therefore the task of visual persuasion is vital for a leader who aims at capturing the audience’s attention and disposition: “No matter how many visual aids you have at your disposal, nothing is ultimately as visually persuasive as you” (Ribbens & Thompson, 2001, p. 48).

Personal responses. The art of successful persuasion presupposes a combination of both verbal and visual factors, with the latter beginning to possess a growing significance in the modern world overloaded with verbal information. Following their natural instinct, people tend to rely more on the easier ways of obtaining information, the visual ones.

Therefore, for successful business which is nowadays based more on the art of negotiation and persuasion it is significant to study one’s body behavior, to understand the information one’s movements render, and to introduce the necessary amendments in one’s body language. The skill of transformation from one personality to another is inalienable from a kind of performance where conscious choice of communicative devices is carried out; thus, workshops on body language appear to be an essential part of business education.

Giving presentations — The theater of business

Chapter summary. The author discusses major challenges connected with giving a presentation. He considers all elements of a presentation and evaluates their importance in the production of a wanted and planned impression.

Ibbotson (2008) sees live communication as a theater performance, an action, and tries to stipulate roles that a presenter should play to make his or her presentation successful. He states that the contents are attributed too much attention to, assuming that the subconscious impression, the so-called spirit of the presentation matter much more than the pure information delivery.

Critique. It is surely hard to overestimate the role of a business presentation in the contemporary period of time because of its being an indispensible element of any form of business. Business presentation as a form of information delivery was recognized a long time ago, thus making it a central point of attention for many business theorists.

Ibbotson (2008) states that a business presentation is a performance and not a rough information delivery, while other economists and followers of the modern business thought think that still contents of a business presentation matter much constituting its essence and initial purpose.

However, it is possible to have a look at the situation from another angle — Whalen (1996) argues that the sole aim of a good business presentation is efficient persuasion. Such a point has sense, but the question is by what means to achieve it. Some presenters may catch the audience’s attention only with interesting contents, others who have a great load of information and too dull figures should invent something to achieve the awaited effect.

A common recipe connecting both the informative and the emotional component of a successful presentation can be found in the work of Conradi and Hall (2001) advising to “put in some graphs and generally make it a bit more lively” — the authors support the opinion that vividness will never hurt, but still do not underestimate the meaning of its contents (p. 17).

Personal responses. Ibbotson’s alternative viewpoint concerning a business presentation certainly has sense and may make a significant contribution to creating a successful business presentation on any topic. Thus, it becomes necessary to include his innovative inferences on the discussed subject in everyday business practices, which will undoubtedly leverage any enterprise.

It is true that the majority of people dealing with presentations focus on the contents; surely, it has recently become important to make a business presentation interesting and persuasive, and the majority of efforts have become concentrated on that issue. But an additional manual on how to do this, a couple of fresh thoughts on the subject have never been undue, so it would be highly useful for any person to take Ibbotson’s advice seriously and implement it into business practices.

The script

Chapter summary. In this chapter the author speculates over the main techniques distinguishing the art of communication. Ibbotson (2008) indicates how many clichés and conventions are present in the business world nowadays, so he recommends that businessmen have to pay more attention to communication as a form of art.

Ibbotson (2008) thinks that communication skills are a much more powerful tool to fulfill the business goals and to communicate them to business partners. He also heavily emphasizes the impact of dialogues in the business process stating that interactive communication of goals and purposes is much more efficient and productive.

Critique. The importance of non-traditional approaches to business communication has been widely recognized recently — it is essential while simple production of business messages in shortened, businesslike forms leads to crippled language, destroyed and fragmented culture and total misunderstanding, loss of shared meaning.

It is certainly necessary to finally remember about the power of words that is incomparable with any diagrams or graphs. The grand effect produced by a skillfully designed speech with the artistic usage of space, color, material and other scenery elements is considered an appropriate choice by many economists.

Thus, for example, Bergmann (2002) conducted a literature review and assumed how much interest a business dialogue is raising nowadays — the reason for this is seen in the perspective profitability of building close relations with customers, partners and other participants of the market at which they function, seizing to be isolated and enhancing business relations in such a way. The same opinion is supported by Kushal and Ahuja (1994) who state that business communication is in its essence “a dual listening process” (p. 16).

Personal responses. Perceiving business communication as an art is a really fresh and unusual idea for the contemporary reality of business people and their affairs.

The reason for this is that all business communication is generalized by sharing some dry information, figures and graphs, and the purpose of persuading the partners or potential investors or clients to consume some products or to become involved in a certain project. The power of persuasion and the way to achieve it have always been a secret for everyone starting his or her own path on the way of business; some individuals found the best way out in the charisma, others relied on leadership assumptions.

But the way Ibbotson (2008) offers to conduct business affairs conceals a great potential — if these techniques are exploited to the fullest extent, it is possible to suppose that such a business person will be able to grasp the audience’s attention fully and will be able to manipulate the public thought the way he or she wants, which is a highly desirable outcome for any person in business.

Rehearsing for business and for life

Chapter summary. In this chapter Ibbotson (2008) analyzes some additional techniques of making business communication efficient and constructive, naming it a rehearsal. The author describes rehearsal as an opportunity for listeners to design their own presentations as in the theater and to express the shared meaning they feel in a business presentation, which increases understanding and acceptance of a situation considerably.

Ibbotson (2008) states that ambiguity, despite the negative connotation that it used to acquire, nowadays helps to expand the measures of understanding and to develop the new, intermingled scheme that will allow every listener to become an active participant of a business situation, which makes it a lively part of everyone’s experience.

Critique. Ambiguity and artwork as technologies of business communication enhancement and increasing the emotional, meaningful and impression impact thereof have found a great resonance in the business literature. Despite the seemingly bold and unrealistic idea to apply the techniques that previously seemed not compatible with business goals and techniques, it found a great recognition and extensive usage, even receiving its own name of an interpretative strategy (Ingram, 2006, p. 37).

The method used in the interpretative strategy is to leverage from the ambiguity of key words in a business presentation, to use them in such an extended, skilful way so that every participant would develop a sense of shared meaning and would find something for his or her own personality.

However, it I necessary to understand the roots for the tremendous success the application of ambiguity found in business circles — they are wonderfully explained by Austin and Devin (2003) who state that the “constantly changing conception of the problem, this relatively unstructured exploration of an evolving space, is well-suited to problems that involve significant ambiguity” (p. 22).

Nonetheless, all authors and researchers in this sphere agree that the discussed strategy will be enacted correctly only in case the presenter has a high level of preparation, knows how to guide the audience and what questions to ask.

Personal responses. The idea of applying ambiguity as the flexible material to guide business communication and to shape it in the way that will be individually tailored and colored for every participant is a seemingly hard task to handle. In practice, as it has been shown by many business people who managed to implement the interpretation strategy, it is not excessively hard — in general, it can be handled by an ordinary businessperson wishing to make an appropriate impression by the presentation.

However, there is a set of rules and structures that have to be followed in the process of implementation to make the presentation successful. In other way ambiguity may reach such a high level that the common sense will be hardly found and the shared meaning will be lost, making the presentation a failure.

Training for creative leadership

Chapter summary. In this part Ibbotson (2008) tries to find alternative ways of building up the leadership scheme in an organization so that it would work constructively and would not be based solely on the principles of subordination and hierarchy.

Ibbotson (2008) argues that the main drawback of a modern leadership model is that leaders are not taught to encourage their subordinates emotionally, and states that genuine leadership should be based not on being intellectual, but on being expressive, able to handle emotions and to encourage motivation not on the formalist but on the emotional level.

The author also gives a trial master-apprentice model taken from art and applies it to business, investigating the possible advantages and drawbacks thereof.

Critique. The idea of creative leadership is extremely popular nowadays — with the clear understanding of the changing world nowadays it became the only possible way out to sustain adequate relations between subordinates and managers. As noted by Damiani and Damiani (1998), the 21st century brought about paradoxical needs for the senior management — to offer less security to employees and to make them more motivated and creative through a new paradigm of encouragement (p. 4).

Thus, creative leadership based on inspiration and emotional contact became the essential element of a new scheme of management that came to change the authoritarian one which produced significant pressure on the participants, but at the same time freed them from the majority of responsibilities.

McCauley and Velsor in partnership with the Center for Creative Leadership (2004) also worked out the manual for managers of a new generation, summing up and structuring all activities, embodied skills and knowledge that might help establish relations of a new era in leadership — it is possible to mention such aspects of creative leadership as working out feedback-intensive programs (and 360-degree feedback as a living example of such programs success), making the major emphasis on leader development, or managing diverse challenges in the working process as well as handing job assignments.

These are surely only a couple of examples on the subject, but they serve as wonderful evidence of the fact that creative leadership is the future perspective that is the only valid and successful for implementation in any organization.

Personal responses. Creative leadership has a huge potential at the workplace. However, it is hard to argue the fact that creativity is something that only a talented person may possess — it is hard to develop the embodied skills of charisma, creativity, inspiration and motivation in a person who does not have them from nature.

This is why additional attention should be paid to choosing the leadership staff who are inherently capable of training and shifting to the new paradigm of creative leadership — in other way the plan will fail in any organization.

Art in the world

Chapter summary. The present chapter is dedicated not to creative leadership as it is, but to the main function of a creative leader — to manage the resources he or she has in power wisely, to use authority and language to inspire the creativity of subordinates and to achieve efficient results not only with the application of their own forces, but with the overall participation of the team, no matter how large it may be.

A good example Ibbotson (2008) shows in this chapter is how the art of situational design and distribution of authority and power are enforced in the US Army — despite the strict control, hierarchy and authority distribution there is always a way to include all participants in the process of decision-making, to encourage their ideas, which in result leads to a process in which all participants are responsible for their part of actions and make a living organism, be it a strategy, a military operation or anything else.

Ibbotson (2008) introduces the term of audacity — the ability to make a project striking, interesting and involving the majority of participants to take part in it.

Critique. Indeed, audacity is a fine element of any undertaking that is able to make any subordinate an active participant. Despite its negative connotation in the common English language, one should not underestimate its importance in any business scenario. Researchers in business theory do not recommend neglecting audacity because it gives the additional power to those who want their project to be a success.

Thus, for example, Fayolle (2007) worked out a specific project that helped people acquire entrepreneurial skills and increase their self-confidence, audacity etc. Robinson and Stern (1998) also pay much attention to the issues discussed in the present chapter and give much advice on how to manage creativity within one company, which may raise profits to a great extent and may help optimize the inner staff climate.

They give such directions for action as, for example, alignment, self-initiated activity, unofficial activity, serendipity etc. (Robinson and Stern, 1998, p. 12).

Personal responses. Creativity is a great treasure in any undertaking, be it business, art or daily life. This is why it turned out absolutely natural to think of a winner as a person who manages to use personal creativity, but not only in an isolated way, but as a source of managing the creativity of others. It has been proven by practice of many companies and entrepreneurships in the world that a leader alone cannot do much as his or her main power lies within the way he or she manages the forces of his team members.

The power of a leader is in his or her ability to lead and to manage, so the truth revealed by Ibbotson (2008) does not leave any hesitations or doubts. A true creative leader will not act alone and take responsibility for his or her whole team, but will manage to arrange their work in such a comparatively independent way so that they would freely take the initiative and apply their creativity to achieve stumbling results for the team and the company on the whole.

Why artists should rule the world

Chapter summary. This chapter considers business as creative art — Ibbotson (2008) argues that all businessmen and leaders should certainly be artists due to their ability to innovate, to discover and to exist in the turbulent environment.

The author thinks that it is initially impossible to stand the process of Darwinian natural selection taking place in business every day without artistic qualities — unforeseen consequences, the ability to change rules and to alter the social change — all this is in power of only those who have the artistic spirit and are able to compete in the world of art.

Ibbotson (2008) also raises the idea of authorship as equally important for the world of art, namely theater, and the world of business because of imitation accepted as a norm nowadays, but still being ugly plagiarism that has to be eliminated on the path of creativity.

Critique. Creativity and innovation have been recognized as two indispensible elements of a successful modern business, this is why the majority of economic theorists have become obsessed by drawing the outline of methods to apply these techniques to create, to manage an undertaking and to succeed in the modern business world of fierce competition. For example, Jolly (2003) states that “many industries want to believe that creativity can deliver a magic answer, a silver bullet” (p. xi).

And indeed, the true evidence of the powerful potential creativity has may be found in the book of Fallon and Senn (2006) who speak about how to turn creativity into a powerful business advantage. They find a set of methods and techniques that promise a high yield in the business market, so these materials allow stating that the importance of creativity is not overestimated in the contemporary business reality.

Personal responses. Creativity matters much in the world of business, because only that firm will have a competitive advantage that will be able to surprise the competitors and the clients; only that firm will be able to arrange a revolution and to act unexpectedly in the business world, which is possible only in a creative spirit. This is why business nowadays should welcome all artists, leaders with creative skills, because they bear the strong perspective in the rapidly changing business environment today.


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