Designers as Leaders.

An interesting essay on designers (and feel free to substitute “creative person” to cover all of those who are in creative fields) as leaders…

Some quotes that jumped out for me (slightly edited)…

“…Early in his career George [Nelson] worked for a time with Frank Lloyd Wright. One day when George and the great prairie architect were taking a walk and talking, Wright was struggling to find a metaphor that would explain the essence of architecture. At one point he stopped and pointed to a flower, saying, “Architecture is like this flower….no, that’s not it.” He then walked a bit farther, turned and said, “George, architecture is like being in love.”

It is a paradox. In order to be a professional, one must be an amateur. The word amateur comes from the Latin amator, meaning to love. An amateur is one who does something for the love of it. Of course. Love and passion are the organizing forces in leadership and management, overriding technique or skill, just as they are in almost everything worthwhile doing — romance, parenthood, creativity. Paraphrasing Wright — leadership, then, is like being in love.”

Yes, I know, the point of the essay is designers as leaders, but one thing that jumped out of this passage is the line, “Architecture is like being in love.” It doesn’t just apply to architecture… creating something significant and special can only be done with love. Not for money, not for fame, but for the love of doing it.

“Designers have even better preparation than most to assume leadership. They are especially qualified. Designers are already good at seeing things in context, already understand the sweep of history, already are conversant in the arts, sciences and humanities (as are the best leaders), already are good at working in ensembles, already are environmentally aware, already understand the limits of technology, its backfiring nature, already are capable of a high level of creative thinking, already can appreciate the esthetic dimensions of leadership. The first step, then, is for designers to begin to imagine themselves as leaders — of design firms, of communities, of cultural organizations, of corporations — and beyond.”

In the past, I’ve always heard that, “creatives aren’t good leaders, because they only care about being creative.” But the same thing that drives great designers also drives great leaders: passion, beliefs, love… the stuff that drives us to aspire. If you’re a leader who can’t lead creatively, with passion, for love, you’re going to be leading for the wrong reasons.

We’ll end on this thought:

“The more important a relationship, the less skill matters. Leadership is a high art. It is too important to be a skill.”

Creative people, imagine and lead on!

(via the Brand Builder blog)

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