Why Executives Should Read More Poetry

Blog Post Transformational Leadership

“Beyond the ideas of right doing and wrong doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there,” writes Djalâl ad-Dîn Rûmî in the thirteenth century. These few words open up a whole world even for us in the twenty-first century, which would take many sentences and examples to explain. This illustrates the creative and evocative power of poetry. What if poetry was a beautiful tool for us managers and leaders to inspire people around us and give life to new possibilities?

If we consider that the future can only exist in language (after all, nobody has ever been to the future), being able to create an inspiring future in language is a key skill to enroll teams and stakeholders. It requires to use evocative and poetic language and be used by it. I know, this is not what we think about when we put together a strategy. However, we often mandate creative agencies to come up with elaborate statements or slogans to express our vision or positioning. This turns into a mechanical exercise where the same old buzz words are used. Experience shows that these statements at best have a very short shelf-life, and fail to deeply inspire people.

Poetry, as an art form, goes beyond our known reality and creates (poetry comes from the Greek verb “poiein” – to create) new worlds, where “Earth is blue as an orange” (Paul Eluard). Reading poetry as a practice enables us to experience beauty from words and puts us in touch with the better part of our humanity. An interesting access to elevating our leadership, don’t you think? So let’s try it out! One poem a day. Restrictions do not apply.

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”

T.S Eliot in Four Quartets

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