My initial draft title for this entry was something about “A Serious Work of Art”, a not so clever wordplay referring to the substantive value of creative expression, or in archetypal leadership terms, the benefits derived from the passion-based world.  I switched to this title after reading an article ( mining our natural resources) about  Michaëlle Jean’s eponymous foundation  that has established an organization working with youth and elders in northern and poverty-stricken urban communities across Canada that uses the medium of art to empower, heal, unite and transform.  This is the passion-based world in action.

Michaëlle Jean understands that art connects people to themselves, each other and to their communities. She learned initially from her mother and later during visits to her native Haiti as an UNESCO ambassador that the arts (the passion-based world) can raise awareness and facilitate change. Through a project called Generation Art, Michaëlle Jean is giving citizens in under-served communities a voice that will be heard by policy-makers: “The work of the foundation is really focused on realizing solutions that come from the grassroots, from the people themselves. I want everyone to ask themselves ‘Where is my strength” to connect to (their own) sense of leadership?’ ”

The premise underlying this foundation is that the arts matter.  Not simply as entertainment, not as fringe activities out in the margins but as a vital central force for social change and personal and organizational transformation.  I think this is the point being made by Stuart Brown in his research about the critically important, dare I say, serious role play has in our lives.  As Brown puts it, ” Art is part of a deep, preverbal communication that binds people together. It is a necessary ingredient for community life when conflicts and differences of style aand opinion must be hammered out.”

Stuart Brown – The Value of Play

This is the same point being made by “Flow” psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (that’s MEE-hy CHEEK-sent-ma-HY-ee) when he says, “Creativity is a central source of meaning.  Most of the things that are interesting, important and human are the result of creativity.”

Our Balanced Leadership model recognizes how instrumental creative expression is to effective leadership. When we acknowledge our passion-based world, we create the conditions for innovation,relationships and engagement to flourish.  Michaëlle Jean gets it.  If we want to empower leaders to make a difference, especially where it’s needed most,  let’s tap into their inner creative resources.