Discovering the Art & Science of Leadership Thinking

Our intention
Some leaders know how to tell a story to engage our emotions, imaginations and buy-in.

Some leaders know how to make excellent fact-based presentations and decisions.

The best leaders can do both.

We share methods used by effective leaders to tap both the ‘art’ and ‘science’ sides of our natures as they lead and manage their businesses. We’ll show how it works with two case studies.

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The Science of Leadership: Evidence-based practice
When we talk about the science of leadership we mean Evidence-based Practice. This is a set of techniques that first appeared in medicine (Evidence-based Medicine) and has spread to other disciplines including management.

The Art of Leadership: Arts-based practice
When we talk about the art of leadership, we refer to ways of thinking also belonging to artists as part of their Arts-based Practice. This approach is grounded in imaginative, sensory and felt experience and is utilized to spark fresh thinking, to engage wholehearted participation and reflection,and to catalyze the coming together of a community.

Checklists for Evidence-based leadership practice
Evidence-based practice has well-developed processes and checklists for managers to adopt. We will go through the steps of decision clarity, methods of gathering of the best available evidence, and how to end with a well-informed judgement.


Habits of Mind Common to both the Arts and Leadership
Research in the last two decades involving thousands of successful leaders has revealed that the most successful among them share a set of habits of mind, attitudes and thinking competences most notably associated with highly original and successful artists. We will review this research and how to activate and nurture these same capacities latent in ourselves, our teams and company cultures.

Starbucks Case Study: Combining the Art and Science of Leadership
Starbucks is a successful business that wants to be even better. We share how they utilized two contrasting leadership training initiatives, one grounded in arts-based practice, the other in evidence-based practice to change the day-to-day management culture in more than 5000 stores and cafes.

University Case Study: Transforming the status quo, Readying for the Future
It’s hard to change the status quo, especially in an organization like a university with so many isolated and competing departments. Rational arguments for change can seem self-evident and unassailable.   But they are often woefully insufficient to move a community beyond its comfort zone and into the action mode of doing and thinking differently, especially if that community is as fractured as a traditional university. We share how one university employed an art-based methodology combined with a design thinking approach to strategic planning to get a diverse and disenfranchised faculty to reconnect with one another, renew their collaborative energies, and generate some exciting and innovative ideas for the future of their institution.

Some people lean towards science, and some toward art. Some people are more comfortable in the world of analytics; others are most at home in a world of narratives, images and felt knowledge. Both are a part of our nature as human beings, both are keys to how our minds and the world at large actually work. We hope that by sharing specific techniques and highlighting certain habits of mind shared by successful leaders and artists alike, in combination with our case studies, we will help leaders to see how they can call upon these same practices, both the science-based and arts-based, to enrich their own leadership gifts and capabilities.

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