Navigating through the cre:ate 2010 thinktank/arts conference last week, I was reminded of the importance of messy leadership. Leading today’s cultural creatives is never an easy task. Perhaps that’s why invaluable talent continues to flee corporate America and the church. The hierarchical alpha leaders from a time long since past still lead most of these organizations.
I believe every leader that desires to create culture must practice messy leadership. Here are a few principles:
1. Messy Leadership requires forfeiting our natural needs. In order to release today’s creatives to their full potential, a leader must find his greatest satisfaction in their success.
2. Messy Leadership requires tenacity. This is no place for leaders who straddle the fine line between Carpe Diem and “Who gives a s#@t.” Leading cultural creatives guarantees discouragement and exhaustion. Many artists are only able to see beauty through the lens of a tortured past.
3. Messy Leadership requires trust. Wise leaders find the right team of people, collaboratively determine a goal and then get out of the way and let things happen.
4. Messy Leadership requires forgiveness. Get ready. Disappointment will happen. But the messiness of grace provides an artist who fails the opportunity to try again with our blessing. Not our condemnation.
5. Messy Leadership demands loyalty. Not perfection – loyalty. Not dysfunction – loyalty. Artists rarely remember who “brought them to the dance”. They must be reminded that they stand upon the sacrifice and shoulders of others and in turn, must provide the gift of their shoulders for others. When loyalty is violated time and time again, it may be time to make a hard call.
6. Messy Leadership requires the understanding that we have not been called to change the world, but we have been called to create culture. It is vital for us to realize that the whole world is not riding on our shoulders.
7. Messy Leadership requires emotional intelligence. In the world of cultural creatives, EI is far more important than IQ.
What other Messy Leadership principles have you found invaluable?