Creative Leadership – Connections Part Three

This is the third and final post drawn from my recent talk and shared experiences around connections and creativity at the Illinois SHRM conference 2013. The first part of this series is about music, vulnerability, diversity and conversations, the second is about transparency and seeing the whole picture, and this third piece is about presence and art.

Be Here Now

We talked about the importance of presence as a way of reinforcing connections, and about that good feeling you get when you know you have the attention of the other person. Someone in the audience referred to this as ‘Be Here Now’, and as we talked through what this meant to people, other words like focus, appreciate and mindful came up in our conversation. We talked about how crappy meetings get in the way of doing good work and we shared a few ideas about how to make crappy meetings better.

Art for Art’s Sake

I spoke briefly about my ongoing artistic endeavours, and how my experiment with painting started purely for enjoyment. And the more I played – with paints, pencils, and inks…

Art for Art's Sake

Art for Work’s Sake

…the more I began to realise that the very act of artistic expression, is a gateway to better work. Importantly, this gateway is open to all, regardless of the level of proficiency. I am not an artist, but I have discovered and am discovering ways of using art both as an individual and in groups with clients, to help with gaining different perspectives, aiding divergent thinking and improving problem solving.

Art for Work's Sake

The form the art takes can vary. Photography, painting, drawing, mark making, sketching, collage, poetry, and adaptation of the work of others (the head shaped example above is cut from a piece of work that CreativeConnection recorded at a previous event we ran together), are all ways of helping you experiment, think more creatively, and find new answers to problems.


The curtain came down on our time together at Illinois with a reminder of the importance of trust, and with that we went our separate ways to make more connections and learn and share more experiences together.

The Trust Overlap

I hope this review of connections and creativity has been useful. If you have any questions – or would like to explore anything I’ve written about in more detail, please get in touch.

Additional Resources

Here are the slides I used for my talk in full

Here is a link to the work on Humanizing Employee Engagement that Paul Hebert shared with us in Illinois. This was my favourite session of the conference, partly because it linked to some of the connections stuff we spoke about, but more importantly, because Paul is a smart guy who thinks a little differently. If you’re not already connected with Paul, hopefully this link will encourage you to do so.

Author: Doug Shaw

Artist and Consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

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