What makes a true leader? Harvard Business Review published an article in 2007 titled, In Praise of the Incomplete Leader, which defines four leadership capabilities that organizations need.

  1. Sensemaking- Ability to understand changes in the business environment and determine the impact of these changes on the organization.
  2. Relating- Build trusting relationships, balance advocacy with inquiry, and form networks.
  3.  Visioning- Develop a compelling image for the future of the organization and generate support for that image
  4.  Inventing-Create new ways to complete a task or overcome a problem

According to the authors, no leader can have all four capabilities. The key to being a great leader is to pinpoint your strengths and surround yourself with people that can compensate for your weaknesses. In essence, accept that you are an incomplete leader. If I were to choose one category where I feel the strongest, it would be relating. I pride myself on being able to understand situations from the point of view of others. I often need a sensemaker to remind me that personal relationships cannot interfere with my ability to complete a task or uphold a policy.

In the arts sector, there are many different kinds of leaders. The obvious leaders are the CEOs of museums or owners of galleries. But then there are art consultants that assist with sensemaking, curators that spearhead the museum visioning, and of course the artists, always inventing. The many roles can be viewed in a variety of ways, but the point is to understand that we all need one another.

Do you agree with the four capabilities? Where are you the strongest?

Click here for the full capability chart if you are interested.