Summer now seems to have slowly reached its peak.
The number of cases of the pandemic seems to be falling steadily for the first time in 8 months. And yet we do not know whether this calm will remain certain for us.
We need hope. As a society, in the companies. A mood of optimism, towards something better. Whatever that means in the respective context.
For the last weeks, as part of our Apeironart live series “Artworks and their creators”, we have spoken with European artists about their perception of the pandemic, its impact on their creativity and art:
were they able to be creative during the lockdown, or were they blocked? It turned out that there were two camps. Those who had to creatively process their impressions of the pandemic thus were extremely productive. There were artists who were initially shocked at the beginning of the pandemic, but then recovered and gradually went back to their creative work.
When asked what allowed them to overcome their blockade, many replied that they felt they had a social responsibility. A responsibility towards society, to give people joy and hope. They acted as ambassadors of hope. The museums were closed and there were no exhibitions. But technology, and especially social media, helped them communicating and expressing throughout their paintings and sculptures.
Each of them has a central theme or let us call it a purpose that accompanies them in their artistic life: that can be joy for life, hope or a silent mirroring of society. However, they all have one thing in common, namely the strong urge to leave something behind for people that matters. A second important quality that emerged again and again around the artists is their unwavering will to transform: whether it be the fact that their get bored easily or the pursuit of perfection. This agility allows them to keep their fingers constantly on the pulse of their work.
What do we learn from this in a business context?
1. The topic of purpose is increasingly becoming a basic need in a post-pandemic world. And I even propose that this will be the case across generations. In future, companies will spend even more time on the “WHY” together with their employees. What can we as a company do with our business models to make the world healthier, safer and fairer? A satisfactory answer to these central questions will in the future decide even more whether we can reach and keep motivated and mature employees. Purpose will not only become a competitive advantage, but rather the livelihood of entrepreneurial activity.
2. Let us come to the transformation part of the story: we argued above that artist are constantly transforming themselves in their creative work. Most companies are not bored, but business models are either getting on in years or have become obsolete due to digitization. One could now claim that the existing business model would simply be digitized, and it could fit again. You know this discussion that a deficient analog process digitized does not get any better.
It takes a fresh look at existing challenges. And this is exactly where we come to the topic of opening your mind.
How should people who have been thinking and speaking in the same direction for years suddenly open their heads and approach topics creatively, or shall we say innovatively? Mindset frameworks such as design thinking and agile processes in general are certainly an important component in such change processes. If digitalization should really finally pick up speed, specifically not only technologically but above all with regard to the maturity of the organization and the employees, we managers must be aware that we are up to it. Digitally advanced mature organizations obviously demand another type of leaders. Are we really ready for that?
The art of creating the right appearance
Niccolo Macchiavelli spoke about “The art of creating the right appearance” as leader. Right Appearance alone will not be sufficient in future times. Employees understand the difference between honest leadership that gives purpose and simple teflon appearance, and they react upon it, documented in financial results.
In summary, I would like to see a consistently honest leadership culture that encourages employees who are willing to transform themselves and to grow beyond themselves. Including the calculated consequence that there might be a shift in power.
This would be my wish for a post-pandemic leadership world, quasi my personal summer fairy tale.
July 15th, 2021