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The Duality Of Leadership – An Artisan And A Scientist

Dr. Santarvis Brown has spent 15+ years serving as a leader, innovator, and changemaker in education, showcasing in-depth insight as an administrator, educator, and program director.

Executive Contributor Santarvis Brown

Effective leadership can move mountains. It can turn even the most divided of offices into well-running and efficient professional spaces. The key to transformative leadership comes from two equally important sides of the same coin: art and science. While they might not initially seem like the most natural pairing in the world, combining skills from both fields allows leaders to thrive and reach their full potential.

Business leader and his team at the office

I’ve seen the wonders of effective leadership firsthand, and I’d like to help you ascend that ladder to masterful leadership. Let’s talk about the duality of leadership and how you must be both an artisan and a scientist.

The science of leadership

Science, as a field, is characterized by the ability to use immovable functions and systems to make sense of even the most chaotic situations. The best leaders understand how to include systematic models and approaches such as:

  • Situational

  • Transactional

  • Transformational

  • Authenticity

All of these models can be used to help leaders work with their employees and establish a sense of effective authority in the workplace. This leadership approach is directive in nature and lends itself more to enforcing rules and expectations than it does to connecting with other people on an empathetic or sympathetic basis. Sometimes it is important to lead clearly, with an emphasis on your title and responsibilities, and understanding the science of leadership can greatly aid you.

Consider the science of leadership as the concrete principles of good leadership. These are the foundations upon which the rest of your leadership style is built.

The art of leadership

Art is a field defined by creativity and the ability to transcend barriers and cultural/social/power divides. The best artists can create work that holds a universal appeal – work that doesn’t require detailed explanations in order to appreciate it. It connects people together. The parallels between art and leadership are stronger than they might initially seem.

As an artisan, rather than a scientist, leaders seek to apply the principles of leadership we described above in an intuitive, creative, and flexible manner. This requires leaders to practice emotional intelligence, communication skills, and empathy as well as to navigate sometimes complex social dynamics. Leaders with these kinds of skills have a better chance of practicing a few different important communication approaches. The art of quietly and actively listening without feeling entitled to a response, for example, along with the art of understanding when to back off and when to lean in are tied to the art of leadership.

The duality of leadership

Leaders who lead most effectively understand how to balance science and art. They can read situations and decide if they need to hand out concrete tasks or enforce rules or if a softer, more participatory approach is better. The combination of these two fields offers the skills to cover nearly every aspect of leadership.

If you are hoping to improve the way you lead, make sure that you are able to switch between scientist and artisan smoothly. This will help you provide the right words at the right time to make a big difference in your workplace.


Santarvis Brown, Leadership Engineer

Dr. Santarvis Brown has spent 15+ years serving as a leader, innovator, and changemaker in education, showcasing in-depth insight as an administrator, educator, and program director. A noted speaker, researcher, and full professor, he has lent his speaking talent to many community and educational forums, serving as a keynote speaker. He has also penned several publications tackling issues in civic service, faith, leadership, and education.



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