Reflections on art and leadership

I use my art to reflect an artist and a senior manager in the financial services industry. I notice that the deeper I understand myself the more I succeed to impact others; in both art and work.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What is it that really matters at work? A new art concept

For some time on this blog I have exchanged more purely on art works, less on leadership. Now that my exhibitions in New York are prepared I try to take a bit more distance, read more and reflect. This will help me at work and to develope further my current and furture concepts.

Sometimes it is good to be forced to reflect. To be stuck in a situation where there is nothing more to do than to think and reflect. To empty the mind, allow the echoes of latest experiences, emotions and tasks to fade away and achieve a certain intense awareness in your head.
This can be when making art, or when going for a run, or when biking for a long distance...
Recently I was taking care of our newborn son, who would only be satisfied when in the arms of his, I had some time where I could do nothing...only think and reflect.

Observations looking back at work experiences?
I realised that recently at work there are plenty of challenges. My team is doing well, at least making great efforts to get things delivered and improved. At the same time I see around us some other areas where basic mistakes are made and not addressed in an adequate way. And these directly impact the overall outcome of what we deliver...basically making it difficult for us to deliver.
Then I reflected on a few observations that lead to some insight:
- in general several managers solve issues from a distance; they stay at a high level and do not actually know what happens on the working floor. They focus on interesting strategic discussions before solving the operational dysfunctions, they fire the people that make the company run (but are maybe less visible), they assume that they can direct the cleanup without getting their feet dirty
- in several cases I have worked to lead teams to a better performance, and in general we would make it possible to objectively view the improvement. But after leaving it would only take a year (or sometimes a bit more) to break down all the mechanisms that have been built. And the net result of my efforts have disappeared.

What remained?
Then I realised when looking back that there are different ways of looking.
1. Achievements -
we can look back at what we have achieved, made improvements, delivered projects, made work more efficient, etc. This will give us possibly a sense of pride, a sense of satisfaction and maybe even an eagerness to start doing that again in other areas.
2. People that mattered -
another way is to look bakc at the people we worked with. Which memories do we have of exceptional experiences, where ahve we been able to help others, where have we allowed others to help and teach us. I observe that when looking back actually these type of things give us a sense of warmth. Now I realise more than at that time, how special the experience was and how great the collaboration with others.

Testing the idea
I shared with other people and basically everyone recognised that "what remains is the memory of the meaningful and nice people we worked with" and that "we mainly realise this afterwards, often insituations when we are in a new -less inspiring- work environment.

You are not able yourself to materially change things for it is better to focus on making the journey meaningful and fun

It is good to frequently take time to look back to understand, and then project understanding to the future

Art concept
To translate this into an art concept I need to make it personal, and rephrase: " what do I need to learn to bring this into practice"?

Elements that come to mind:
- stimulate reflection on how things are going and what really matters ( keeping focus on meaningful things, rather than achievements)
- actively appreciate and share the joyful collaboration, rather than focusing on issues only

Practical ideas
- making nice design drawings to mark nice and meaningful experiences
- make postcards or ThankYou cards for share with others
- integrate writings in terms of lessons/experiences and make them into a collage
- make a drawing a day on nice work experience, and combine these in a large artwork
- create a cv compised only of positive work collaboration experiences and then contact those people to relive and rediscover...although in some cases that might destroy the previous memories ;)

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