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December 14, 2018

How to look at art: World demands creative leaders

Creativity is changing status quo
Creativity is changing status quo

We live in a world marked by deep transformational changes, said World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab as thousands of global leaders descended on the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos. 

Creativity changes the status quo. All changes demand creative leaders, the leaders who think new ideas and have a habit to innovate, agile to explore different perspectives, to lead with a new, not yesterday’s, vision, leaders who set the trend and the stage, and be brave enough to act on their ideas and vision. 

Six of th Davos leaders were asked: What does it take to lead in these times of change? This  is what they said:

“I work with too many leaders who cling to their convictions with an iron will. As intoxicating as that confidence can be, it’s a huge barrier to making wise decisions and pivoting as circumstances change,” said Adam Grant, professor, management and psychology, Wharton School.  

In times of change, a critical skill for leaders is to say, “I might be wrong” – and mean it. The leaders who fare best at predicting the future are the ones who recognise that the future is unpredictable. 

“Leaders must be able to build organisations that are agile and can routinely innovate,” said Linda A Hill, professor of business administration, Harvard Business School. People don’t want to follow a leader who leads with a yesterday’s model. “Leading innovation is intellectually and emotionally taxing work, much of which takes place behind the scenes. It requires a belief in others’ slices of genius and a sense of generosity to share power, control and credit. Leading innovation is more about being the stage-setter than the performer, not always easy for leaders with star talent themselves.”

Phil Tetlock and Dan Gardner, authors of Superforecasting, say that “intellectual humility, appreciating both the infinite complexity of reality and the fallibility of human beings” is the thing. This is because, Phil says, “intellectual humility causes the wise leaders to distrust quick-and-easy answers’ and always “explore different perspectives”. Mistakes are inevitable. Only introspection and relentless critical examination can correct them. “And perhaps most importantly, intellectual humility dispenses with certainty. Indeed, for the intellectually humble leader, “nothing is certain” is axiomatic. All judgements are matters of probability only.”

Kishore Mahbubani, dean, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, said, “One key skill all responsible leaders need to have today is a deep understanding of the trends driving change. Three tidal forces are sweeping across our world. The first is the return of Asia and the end of Western domination of history. The second is accelerated globalisation creating a small, interdependent, borderless world. The third is explosive change in technology, which is driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Any leader who fails to understand this unique complexity of our time is ill-equipped to lead their society.”

And, Lynda Gratton, professor of management practice, London Business School, added that, “The path to leadership is to create within the leader a deep sense of values, and the courage to act on their values.”


Alla Tkachuk founded Mobile Art School in Kenya. Become ‘Kenya Patron of the Arts’, contact Alla for more information on [email protected]

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