Leadership is a science and an art. To be an effective leader, one needs to incorporate both dimensions.
George Ambler said “The science of leadership concerns the observations, study and classification of leadership practices, resulting in a reliable explanation of what makes leaders effective”. Styles, traits, behaviours, and contingencies are topics in the scientific model of leadership, where each explanatory approach is carefully designed and tested. The scientific approach then attempts to define leadership and report on its effectiveness.
The art of leadership is not an issue of evidence, it is an issue of awareness and choice. Artful leaders first need to explore and become aware of what their personal and organizational values are. Then, they need to make the choice of whether they want to connect and live by their values, and if so, lead accordingly.
Exploring leadership as an art, leaders are asked to look inwards, perhaps at an unconscious level, and on occasion, make decisions based on their intuition or “gut feelings.” Times have changed, and leaders are moving at a much faster pace, and are confronted with issues more complex and diverse than ever. Artful leaders need to blend their rational thinking with their intuitive skills to make important decisions.
The art of leadership is about learning and gaining different perspectives. Leaders need to be aware of how to trigger their own insights, in addition to triggering those of their team. Profound personal and team learning can occur when leaders choose to incorporate different techniques such as questioning, storytelling, humour, and reflection.
Julian Barling, author of The Science of Leadership discusses how often organizations make mistakes in regards to leadership as they are always looking at the big picture, and missing the fact that what really inspires employees is the small behaviours their leaders display. Leaders who are able to lead their teams to success are the ones who have awareness of how their leadership style impacts those around them.
Understanding how the concepts of values, intuition, and insight are used in the art of leadership, and through awareness and making more artful choices, a leader can improve their effectiveness.