Innovation demands that we seek different and distinctive ways of stimulating our imaginations. This may be achieved by making an association through poetry, which is not often seen as a companion of business thinking. It is the other soft skill. Hopefully you are open to this additional insight.
High performance poetry is an invaluable vehicle for expressing leadership greatness. This art form emphasizes key elements of achievement and helps to cultivate development for personal and professional gain. “Leadership above the Rim turns out to be a shockingly original collection of poems by Orlando Ceaser, a manager-cum-poet who shares them at team meetings and when his direct reports are promoted.”1 This comment from the Financial Times magazine was an early confirmation of the radical insight found in poetry.
People go to work and school and keep their gifts or their light hidden from their peers. Those with a gift of poetic expression will shy away from putting it on full display due to a perceived negative stigma. However, poets can be important to business. Poets have keenly developed powers of observation, outlook and curiosity that lead to investigation and interpretation. These powers can lead to leadership greatness and high performance if we harness the inherent strength of the language and imagery.
Poets use their senses to gain a better understanding and appreciation of their world. They are introspective, intuitive and deep thinkers who are able to view a situation from many perspectives. They are used to experimenting with different approaches. This can be very helpful in leading people and running a business.
Webster’s Dictionary defines a poet as:
- Gifted in the perception and expression of the beautiful or lyrical
- A creative artist of great imaginative and expressive gifts and special sensitivity to his medium.
The poet has inspirational words for winning, has a vocabulary for victory and can speak effectively against the language of losing. The poet is a panoramic thinker. The poet can use
high performance poetry to link the vision and mission of the organization to desired outcomes. Further, through conversations with their peers, poets can help you sell the vision and the goals of the organization. They can approach a subject, such as business, with the radical insight that could lead to inspiring innovation in ideas, products and services. Their observations and perspectives will add to brainstorming and problem-solving sessions.
High performance poetry focuses on using achievement-oriented language to encourage and celebrate excellence. Dana Gioia, a poet with extensive business experience, is a graduate of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, and the former Vice president of General Foods. In addition, and quite notably, he is the past Chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts. As he rose up the managerial ranks, he felt he had “an enormous advantage over his colleagues because he had a background in the imagination, in language and in literature.”2
In a business setting, high performance poetry allows people the use of language, through stories and metaphors. Through these stories and metaphors, the poet is able to paint a positive and attainable picture of the company’s vision. On a deeper level, the poetic communications will touch the hearts of people to build trust and engagement.
The poet may be the introvert in the room, deriving their energy from absorbing everything around them and processing it later in the day. They may be the creative ones, who are insightful, observing and analyzing problems from many different perspectives. They may see things that others don’t see, mainly because they are looking. In my book, The Isle of Knowledge, I tell a story about my friend Buttons from my childhood. During our walks around the West side of Chicago, Buttons was always finding money and other things of value. I tried to match his skill, but with little success. His secret was that he was always looking down and therefore, had a greater opportunity to find things. He was looking where the treasure was located. The poet is always looking for treasure in the places where they reside.
They are always observing, always using their senses, always connected and involved in the world around them. Identify the poets in your midst. Whenever possible, be sure to include them on cross-functional teams and you will be rewarded with a higher performing team that will exceed your expectations.
Another quality that poets bring to the table is a love for experimentation. Their use of metaphors, similes, allegories and hyperbole are some of the ways in which they explore different portrayals of the current reality. At work, they use the same talent to experiment with different solutions, searching for more than one right answer, to improve the quality of decision-making.
It is beneficial to know the poets in your organization and to encourage their expressions of creativity. When these individuals and others focus on high performance poetry, they will leverage their talent to help you utilize and maximize the innate abilities within the team.
You may have heard that poetry and business do not go together. However, this perception may hinder people from exploring and experimenting with a valuable perspective. The high-performance poetry featured in this book will help employees examine its use for achieving their goals. This perspective, if harnessed, will improve the culture within your business in a myriad of ways.
Max DePree, former CEO of the Herman Miller furniture company, tells a story in his book Leadership is an Art, which is a part of the Herman Miller company history. It is a story about a millwright. “In the furniture industry of the 1920’s the machines of most factories were not run by electric motors, but by pulleys from a central drive shaft. The central drive shaft was run by the steam engine. The steam engine got its steam from the boiler. The boiler, in our case, got its fuel from the sawdust and other waste coming out of the machine room – a beautiful cycle. The millwright was the person who oversaw that cycle and on whom the entire activity of the operation depended. He was a key person. One day the millwright died.”
One day the founder of Herman Miller went to the house of the recently deceased millwright. While visiting his home, the widow asked if the young manager would mind if she read some poetry aloud. After listening to her read beautiful poetry, he asked the author of the work. She replied that it was her husband, the millwright. For years the young manager and others at Herman Miller who were apprised of the story wondered,” was he a poet who did millwright’s work, or was he a millwright who wrote poetry?”3
High performance poetry will start you on the path of discovering more about the people in your group or organization. It will help you to explore various aspects of the work experience. It will illuminate and elucidate human motivation and the desire to innovation on an even grander scale. This greater understanding of people will be instrumental to the team’s commitment to exceeding expectations.
Max Dupree goes on to say, “understanding and accepting diversity enables us to see that each of us is needed. It also enables us to begin to think about being abandoned to the strengths of others, of admitting that we cannot know nor do everything. This simple act of recognizing diversity in corporate life helps us to connect the great variety of gifts that people bring to the work and service of the organization.”4 Leadership greatness can be achieved through many avenues. Achieving leadership greatness through high performance poetry is another way to experience the variety and versatility present within your team. I trust that this book will assist you in extracting and multiplying the greatness around you and within you.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
An Ancestor’s Apprentice
Ask (Acquire Selling Knowledge)*
Athletes Leading As Role Models – (ALARM™)
Be humble as you hustle
Be strong to the finish
Circle of Excellence*
Coming Through in The Clutch
Confessions of a Corporate Climber
Do You Ever Want to Spin with Me?
He Makes Leaders for a Living*
Habits and Hustle
I Am Not the One
I am in sales
I Am the Good
Imagine a Company Anarchy On Demand
Intellect Fulfilled is an Awesome Thing
It Is Time
Keep the Ones We Love Alive (Drive
Last Will and Testament
Leadership in a turbulent Season
Leadership is Allowed
Let them Lead
Make your own good news
My time and my touch
Passion makes you cry
Paying your dues
Quest for meaning*
Quotas and forecasts*
She is not too old
Someone you may never know
The Lady and her Legacy
The Leader Within
The Old Guard and the New Way
The Third Quarter of Life
The Temple of Wasted Time*
The Unabridged Life*
The Year in Review
We are committed
What will you be known for?*
When I say diversity, What do you hear?*
When we announced the merger*
Where is the diversity?
You have been chosen to lead*
About the Author— Orlando Ceaser