Markus Gull

Leadership and the fine art of the story.

Are leaders artists? I think so, and in a very special way. Helmut A. Gansterer recently shared some thoughts on this in his essay "Are Entrepreneurs Artists?". "The entrepreneur can be seen as an artist in three ways: As a director of complex processes. As an impresario of innovations. As an aesthetic innovator who integrates beauty into the functional," writes Gansterer and finally draws the conclusion: "As of April 2017, the business magazine trend declares every good entrepreneur of this triangle to be an artist. Especially since, unlike conventional artists, he must also master the art of managing people. So he works with the noblest and at the same time most difficult element, against which marble, stone and iron are like docile wax."

Yes, the art of leading people as a so-called leading skill is probably more important today than ever before, for entrepreneurs and in general for every person who wants to lead others. In times of upheaval in our society, which is affecting many areas of our lives, above all the economy, and the uncertain is much more in the foreground than the certain, someone must have a clear picture of a better future. Preferably those who are at the forefront. Because every person, every company, every organisation sinks into depression without a vision of the future. Leaders are the authors of the future.

The new way of working in open innovation, in freely organised teams with teams that are sometimes scattered all over the world, or the substantial changes that the digital transformation is dictating to every company - these are leadership parade tasks for which artful storytelling is the perfect tool. There are no facts about the future.

If we take an alert look in the rear-view mirror of history, we discover many well-known leaders who, among other things, are united by their unique ability to captivate people with a common story, to motivate them, to set them in motion. For better or for worse, this should not be overlooked. Whether Jesus of Nazareth, Martin Luther King, Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, John F. Kennedy or Adolf Hitler ... pioneers, visionaries, entrepreneurs, politicians, demagogues, leaders and seducers - they all, often unconsciously, know this art.


What is it all about? The quality of the narrative, of course. Anyone who is boring will not inspire anyone, but an excitingly told story alone remains only good entertainment. It is much more about the vision and the common longing of leader and audience that needs to be awakened so that people get moving. It is about the shared value panorama on which the goals are built.

No one has described the power of story as a leadership skill better than Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in "The City in the Desert": "If you want to build a ship, don't gather men together to get wood, assign tasks and divide up the work, but teach the men to long for the wide, endless sea. It is the common longing for the, no, not the vast, endless sea, but the value that drives this longing: Freedom.

Does that apply to all leaders, bosses, leaders? No, only for the good ones.


Picture credits: Cover image Obama , Image Steve Jobs -

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