Being somewhat of an artistic soul (or wannabe, anyway--when I'm not writing articles and blogging, I'm painting pet portraits), a recent e-mail from Vivian Matz Levi caught my eye. She's recently started teaching leadership skills through painting workshops to senior executives at Columbia University's Business School's Executive Education retreat.
I love what she said about one person's feedback:
- One Danish Oil executive said that he had always wanted to paint but never thought he could produce a reasonably good painting until taking our workshop. This experience has made him wonder about the other things he thought about doing but was afraid to try.
I remember being between jobs and thinking, what the heck, I'll take my painting hobby and see if I can make a business out of it. Well, that didn't happen--it's way too labor-intensive to make a living at it--but I did teach myself html and learned how to build a Web site in the process, and met a lot of fellow pet-lovers along the way. I was afraid to put myself out there, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. And it gave me an excuse to do a lot more painting, which I had never thought of as contributing to leadership skills. But she's right, it does teach you to look at everyday items, systems, and processes in a completely different way, and to look at complex things and break them down into their components. Then you can rebuild the items in new and interesting ways that you may not have thought of before.
Anyway, if you're looking for something completely different than the usual ropes course, I can't think of anything more interesting--and more boundary-testing--than getting a bunch of execs to sit down and paint together. Especially if they haven't touched a brush to paper since grade school. Being willing to admit that you don't know how to do something, but you're willing to learn along with your peers? That's leadership, IMHO.
I can't vouch for her program, not having gone through it myself, but boy do I like the idea. If you're interested, you can contact Vivian Matz Levi at (917) 821-6524 or via e-mail.