This post is the third in a series of five articles describing a major arts-based leadership development programme at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, designed and run over a four-year period by Dr. Mark Powell, one of the authors of this article. In the program, which was conducted on behalf of a major oil and gas exploration company, senior project managers worked closely with a wide variety of artists: jazz musicians, actors, painters, storytellers, dancers, conductors and others. The aim was to create a new culture of ‘open mindedness’ in the project managers, encouraging them to interact effectively with the other stakeholders involved in major projects, and enhancing their ability to ‘improvise’ – to react quickly and effectively to changing circumstances.
In San Francisco, a private high school challenged its Seniors to go without their digital devices for a week. Phones were collected and off the students went into their own private purgatories. How long could they last? The Principal thought it would not be long. He saw their humanity slipping away into digital space.
Speed and urgency, although necessary attributes of leadership, are not sufficient to successfully lead a team. In fact, our research suggests that leaders who can tether an obsession with deadlines and time to an ability to sense the work and energy flow of their colleagues will have the most success.
In an earlier post, we gave a very brief account of a major arts-based leadership development programme at Oxford University’s School of Business, designed to create new behaviors in a group of senior project managers in the oil and gas exploration industry. The aim was to create a new culture of ‘open-mindedness’: the ability to form more effective working relationships with the other stakeholders involved in major capital projects and an increased ability to ‘improvise’ – to react quickly and effectively to rapidly changing situations.
Corporate culture was presented and discussed from all angles: What it is, how to measure it, how to change it, how to keep it aligned, whether you are in a start-up, in high-growth mode, or retrenching.