I attended my daughter’s 3rd grade Open House tonight. I learned about the “Rules for Art.” It seems to be a pretty good list for leaders as well:
1. See that no one is perfect. Deal with that. Find their strengths and creatively put them to work in service of the clear and compelling cause your organization stands for. If they don’t fit there, help them out the door in a graceful, respectful way.
2. Be positive. There are plenty of reasons to get down and to assume the worst. Don’t do it. Being positive doesn’t mean you are unrealistic. It means you take your leadership responsibility seriously to set the tone for how WE are going to deal with this challenge.
3. Mistakes are a good thing. On the journey from the known (safety) to the unknown (risk, uncertainty, growth and change) you are going to make plenty of mistakes. If you don’t you are not actually on the journey. And, if you’re not on the journey you’re going to get passed by.
4. We will use materials properly. By doing so we recognize that we are not on an island; that our efforts to create are part of a larger system of creation that is counting on us to be mindful of the whole.
5. Respect everyone. Because everyone is trying to create something and, in doing so, to connect to something larger than themselves. Some are more sophisticated and polished, others are rough and unrefined. What if we assumed best intent and provided more space for them to grow into something even larger than they can currently imagine?
As I turn to leave the classroom I see this on the opposite wall; the learning characteristic of the week:
To lead by these “rules” is to stand for something that is both obvious and obviously unrealized. Doing so requires the brave articulation of something worth fighting for and the independence of spirit necessary to feel alone in pursuit of it.
To do so requires the very best kind of leadership.