Leadership meets Creativity

How can creativity become a driving force in our daily life? This questions runs through Joerg Reckh

How can creativity become a driving force in our daily life? This questions runs through Joerg Reckhenrichs work as artist, visiting professor at business schools (including CEIBS Campus Zurich), consultant working with companies, and as author.

He was interviewed by Robindro Ullah, a coach, speaker and author - and an expert in employer branding, HR marketing and recruiting.


Your approach in personality development is a completely different kind of innovation in this field. How did this project come about and how did you develop the instrument?

The project resulted from a long-standing and intensive collaboration with Egon Zehnder about Transformational Leadership. Out of this situation the new approach emerged. It is, briefly said, the evaluation of potential dimensions inside an art gallery. My topic is transformational leadership and it includes the complexity and orchestration of creativity, which in a sense is the basis for any new project. We asked ourselves how to deepen the potential dimensions, which are, by the way, curiosity, insight, determination, commitment. And we reflected on how to deepen it together with candidates, for example, from family-run companies, in such a way as to recognize what individuals associate with these four terms. We were curious about the stories behind it, and asked ourselves, “Is this possible, taking the ‘way of the arts’?”

Everything started with an impulse. What was next?

It was a very unusual combination. I come from the field of art reflection, perception, and intensive dialogue. These are methods that I use a lot for coaching, for team and organizational development.

I got a whole new approach from the company “Egon Zehnder,” which is the evaluation of potential criteria with a questionnaire and interviews.  For me it was the very first time to find such a dense combination of these two fields—art and personality development.

And how did everything go?

To implement it, Egon Zehnder developed a questionnaire together with Harvard and Stanford to evaluate the potential, which opened the field of the four potential dimensions. We used it to find a common language with clients. The question that we asked ourselves was, “How could the results of the questionnaire be examined and deepened?” In the Berlin gallery, “Gallery Society,” which has a truly interesting program, we had the idea to develop a format by deepening the four potential dimensions along the gallery’s artwork with the participants of the program.

How should we imagine or understand this process or this instrument?

The process starts with the questionnaire. That is the basis. It is answered in a preliminary phase by the participants and then deepened in the gallery based on the four potential dimensions: curiosity, insight, determination, commitment. Each dimension consists of three elements. The main element is a selection of works of art. Here, we looked very closely at how they interact with the respective term. We asked ourselves, “Can we associate and easily approach the subject through these works of art?” The second element consists of quotes from interviews with executives. For example, with Fritz Simon, who has researched intensively the so-called systematic organizational development. This fit the format very well and underlines the systemic aspect. The third part is a brief description and more precise specifications of the potential dimensions.

Are the four potential dimensions in a context with one another?

The order of terms is the tension of a creative process where I want to put something new into the world. This applies not only to art, but also to entrepreneurial questions.

First, I must be curious to find out where I am. What does my company need? For a family business, this can mean that when I am at the end of a product cycle and I, as a manager, take over the store, I must develop extremely high curiosity to create something new. I open my eyes, look very far out, and ask myself if there is something to discover.

Insight is when someone gets its discoveries to the point. I step back and look at what I have come to know and what conclusions I draw from it. It describes the moment when I suddenly say, “it could be,” and that’s the point from which I develop an idea.

What follows is the moment when I really should make a decision. I should go in one direction and leave other things behind. This is the only way that the idea becomes strong enough to be developed further.

The fourth area is commitment, in which the emotional quality is integrated—with passion, I want to develop my decision. With passion for the product, with passion for the people, with passion quite generally for the situation. In this respect, a dramatic tension is established and these four terms counteract very well.

What is the questionnaire?

It is an online questionnaire with about 100 questions. To answer it, it takes about 20 minutes. This is followed by an evaluation of the questionnaire. We use the results in the gallery as a basis for the intensive dialogue.

The results of the questionnaire include, on the one hand, the four potential dimensions mentioned, and, on the other hand, the subdimensions. Thus, a good description and overview, e.g. how to get feedback, or how to establish relationships with employees in dealing with complex information.

The dialogue focuses on both artwork in the gallery and aspects that have the highest urgency, or most energy, for the candidate.

This sounds like a balancing act. How do you manage to bridge the gap between viewing artwork and at the same time talking about potential dimensions?

This is based on a coaching experience—our coaching.

Initially, the client is intuitively looking for a work of art. For example, from the field of “Curiosity.”

We have always experienced how appropriate this selection is. Then we begin by looking at the work of art. This is an “opening” act.

From a certain moment on, we twist the situation; we ask the client what the aspect—which he sees or describes in the work of art—has to do with his situation?

This makes it easy for clients to enter the field and to discover step-by-step the stories behind it. The depth and openness of such dialogues can be breathtaking.