Skip to main content
December 14, 2018

How to look at art: Art and leadership: Creativity is key factor to success

'Beheaded' by Peteros Masinde, 19
'Beheaded' by Peteros Masinde, 19

Art fosters creativity, the ability to effectively solve problems. According to the major IBM Global Study of more than 1,500 CEOs from 60 countries and 33 industries worldwide, creativity - more than rigour, management, or even vision - is what's required for success.

CEOs are confronted with massive shifts - new government regulations, changes in global economic powers, accelerated technological progress, growing flow of information - which, they believe, can be overcome by instilling creativity throughout an organisation.

"CEOs identify creativity as the number one leadership competency of the successful enterprise," said Frank Kern, vice president of IBM Global Business Services because "the biggest challenge facing enterprises from here on will be the accelerating complexity and the velocity of a world that is operating as a massively interconnected system."

CEOs need to discover innovative ways of managing their organisations. Stanford University research shows that people who actively participate in the arts, especially young people exposed to art education in school, are three times more likely to demonstrate creative leadership skills.

Art practices strengthen their imagination, the confidence to form novel ideas, and the capacity to connect knowledge across disciplines. Art fosters creative intelligence that helps to navigate the complexities of the world. According to the IBM survey, creative leaders are those who can generate ideas.

Top-performing organisations are 54 per cent more likely than others to respond swiftly with new ideas. Creative leaders consider innovation a crucial capacity and are willing to change their organisation to set the stage for innovations.

They are courageous and visionary enough to alter a status quo and invent new business models. They know how to overcome resistance to change and align company behind their vision. They understand innovation process mechanisms that keep innovation effective.

Organisations that have built creative operating models expect to capture 20 per cent more of the revenue than their more traditional peers. However, only 50 per cent of CEOs believe their organisations are equipped to succeed in the environment of new business complexity and know how to manage innovation.

This is the largest leadership challenge identified in years of research. To fulfil aspirations, companies need a new generation of leaders with creativity. Participation and education in art is key to such leadership.


Alla is the founder of MASK School for Creativity and Innovation in Kenya. Become the 'Patron of MASK' to support creativity. Contact Alla for more info o n [email protected]

Poll of the day