Monday, December 19, 2005

Leadership - An Art or a Science?

I have always been interested in the different views of leadership.

Some people believe leadership is a science and some believe it is an art. My view has always been that it is a balance of the two though I believe it is more of an art than a science.

Over the weekend whilst reading the excellent ‘Searching Issues’ by Nicky Gumbel I came across a nice and simple rule of thumb to help us differentiate between the objective (the science) and the subjective (the art). Although the book is not about leadership I think this rule can be applied to the leadership debate.

He says the scientific (objective) is about; The How? and the When?

He says the art (subjective) is about; The Why? and the Who?

I like it and if you think about it this says it all really in four words.


Steve Sherlock said...

Hmm, food for thought... Thanks for creating some hunger, Trevor!

Troy Worman said...

Food for thought, indeed, but I'm not sure I agree. The following is from Dick Richards' Artful Work: Awakening Joy, Meaning, and Commitment in the Workplace (Berrett-Koehler hardback, 1996, and Berkley paperback, 1997), which won the Benjamin Franklin Award as best business book of 1996.

"There are only two things that I can say with any degree of certainty about leaders. First, you know what they care about. Second, they are interested in having you care about the same things. Exactly how they let you know what they care about, and how they work to interest you in the same things, is the leader’s art form. Like any art form, there are wide variations in technique and interpretation."

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks Steve and Troy

I agree with Dick Richards. The best leaders I worked for always showed me how they care and I discovered I intuitively cared about the same things.

Leadership does vary of course with the individual and with the circumstances and the setting but I believe it is more an art than a science. Passion With a Side Salad of Process is how I describe it in my book. 'Passion With a Side Salad of Process' is how I describe it in my book.

I also believe integrity remains the greatest quality of the most effective leaders.

Sriram said...


I love this quote by H.Ross Perot on Leadership - "Inventories can be managed, but people must be led". I guess that sums it up! Basically, as John Quincy Adams once said "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks Sriram

I have a good friend in Canada, Brian Ward, who wrote an e-book called "Lead People Manage Things" - that is similar to the Perot quote I guess. You can contact Brian at this e mail address if you would like a copy of his book;

Sriram said...

Thanx a bunch Trevor!

Will email him to get a copy of the book.

Have a nice day!