As you paint, so you reap. What does your canvas look like?

"Art is not what you see,
but what you make others see." 

Edgar Degas - French Impressionist

Your words and actions are the brush strokes on your canvas 

The world's most effective leaders - saints and sinners one and all - have one thing in common.  They know that leadership is an act designed to create powerful and positive feelings in others.

This means they understand that they are always on the stage.  They choose their words and actions with great care.  They are magicians and illusionists.  They understand the tricks of the trade.  People want to be led.  Simple messages repeated often.  Makes people feel connected.  

They understand Degas perfectly.  It is not what you see, but what you make others see that generates leadership alchemy.

Our decades long research confirms this.  Through interviews, assessments and leadership research with thousands of people, we know from our data analysis that the type of person people want to follow is the most important single factor that separates the good from the bad leaders.  

As much as we may wish to use science, logic and theory to explain leadership, it all comes down to our impact on the hidden spring of  involuntary feelings in the dark recesses of our ancient brain stems.

And these feelings are based on what we see and hear - from your living canvas that you present to the world.

                 "Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own 
                  nature into his pictures." – Henry Ward Beecher


Let's assume a leader is a natural born narcissist who interrupts, asks no questions, and listens to no-one.  This is his natural 'authentic self'.  Clearly this would not be a great behavioural strategy - a case where new brush strokes will be essential.

Leadership is polysemous - it is multi-faceted - you are not one persona but rather a bundle of personas that emerge depending on the environment.  This means that your leadership development is a lifelong evolutionary project.  This continuously emerging self is the only real authentic self.  The static version is simply an illusion.

                    "What art is, in reality, is this missing link, not the links 
                     which exist. It's not what you see that is art; art is the 
                     gap." – Marcel Duchamp


                   "Art, freedom and creativity will change society faster 
                     than politics." -  Victor Pinchuk

  1. The video.  Ask a colleague to take a short video next time you are presenting something or contributing in a meeting.  Watch it carefully several times.  On a scale of one to ten rate your impact.  Be honest and brutal.  No point in fooling yourself.  What feelings do you think you are generating in your audience?  (Think glad, sad, mad or scared as a starting point.)
  2. The feedback.  Sit down with a few trusted colleagues.  Ask them how you make them feel?  Again be frank and brutal.  How would they rate your performance on the one to ten scale?
  3. The self-insight.  Review your feedback carefully and honestly.  Anything less than eight out of ten means people don't really like your painting.  You are not inspiring.  The damage?  You are wasting your own potential and the energy and potential of others.
  4. The new action.  New carefully designed behaviours which are sustainable will change your canvas.  That is a proven scientific evolutionary and cultural fact of life.  Implement and ask for regular feedback.
  5. The best option - work with a qualified coach.  A professional tennis player will always employ the best coach.  It would be insane to do otherwise.  If you are a professional leader, why would you do otherwise?

                   "Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is."
                     – Jackson Pollock

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