To Become A Creative Business Leader, Form Your Own Artist Circle

In 1982, Small Group Behavior published an article
entitled, “Artists’ Circles and the Development of
Artists,” in which Michael P. Farrell examines the
development of a group of famous Impressionist
artists, including Monet, Cezanne, and Degas.
The author posits this thesis: “…when we examine
the developmental history of artists, we find that
many works of art, if not the majority, can be
viewed as the product of a group.”
Based on his research, Farrell describes the
phenomenon and five-stage evolution of artistic
circles. Entrepreneurs, who are artists in their own
right, can develop as creative leaders by forming
their own groups in which they share their
experiences of building a company from scratch.
Learn how by reading about the five phases below.
The first phase is formation. Group members
often share similar backgrounds. Their taste for art,
or in our case, organizations, is also similar, and
they repeatedly encounter each other in the same
venues. They translate their rejection by
established authorities into a shared sense of
resistance, which increases their solidarity.
Many in the group exhibit a consistent counter-
dependence on authority. They need authority
figures in order to pride themselves on not doing
what they demand.
In the second phase, the group negotiates
shared norms and values . “While working
alongside each other, the young painters began to
develop their own ideas about what art should be—
their own subculture,” Farrell writes. “As each
member of the group experimented with new
techniques for solving the problems of painting
landscapes, he shared them with his friends.”
The members begin to pool their resources. In
addition to money, the group solidarity provides
essential emotional support. By the end of the
second phase, the commitment to each other has
In the third phase, the group formalizes and
becomes a source of identity for its
members . An articulate member emerges as
spokesman for the group’s values; another serves
to solve routine problems; another integrates new
members and reduces group tension as the
Two additional roles are especially important for
demarcating boundaries. A scapegoat embodies
traits that the rest of the group denies, and the “sell
out” waters down group principles to produce more
marketable work. In symbolizing what the group is
not, these deviants clarify the group’s central
values and communal identity.
The members meet regularly, crystallizing the
group’s culture and acting as an extended family
and therapy group.
The fourth phase consists collective action.
The Impressionists staged their own exhibit. Other
groups publish a newsletter or start a school.
Entrepreneurs might organize a meetup, for
example—or even launch a new startup.
In the final phase, the group disintegrates as
individual members pursue their own
identities .
Several factors converge at this point. Group
interaction frequently strains the members,
producing taxing interpersonal conflict. Those who
experience differential success or recognition are
tempted to “go solo,” and they cultivate
autonomous values that the rest of the group
doesn’t share. More practically, as they age,
marriage and family compete for their time and
Groupthink is a risk, too. Here are a three ways to
reduce that tendency and prolong the life of the
1. Structure it around a highly respected
authority figure
2. Invite those with different backgrounds—
don’t make it too homogeneous
3. Openly scrutinize each other’s work
For first-time startup CEOs, this kind of support
group can be immensely valuable. Some of it
happens today through social media, such as blogs
and Twitter, but it’s hard to replace the rich
interaction and emotional intimacy of face-to-face


12 thoughts on “To Become A Creative Business Leader, Form Your Own Artist Circle

  1. Greetings! Very useful advice within this article! It’s the little changes that will make the most significant changes. Thanks for sharing!

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