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by Peter W. Hart and David Zinger | January 15, 2016

Imagine a workplace where people don't care. Imagine spending eight hours a day working in anonymity. Imagine being told that the only recognition you need is your salary. We hope you would only have to imagine this, not experience it.

There is another way: People Artistry. People Artists draw out the best in themselves and others to create a workplace canvas of excellence for the benefit of all. But how does one become a People Artist? 

Here is an example: Don Macpherson is the president of Modern Survey in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Every Thanksgiving Day, Don drives to his office, rather than parking himself on his sofa to watch the annual Thursday afternoon NFL football match. He phones upwards of 120 employees, friends, family members, associates, and customers to individually thank them for the previous 12 months. Don literally puts abundant thanks into Thanksgiving.
Another example is Henry Mintzberg, a professor at McGill University in Montreal and one of the world's leading management writers and educators, believes that management is an art, craft and science. Henry offers a no nonsense approach to management, leadership and strategy. Dismissing the distinction between leaders and managers, he simply declares that good managers lead and good leaders manage. He describes engaging managers as those who demonstrate respect, trust, caring, inspiration and listening to bring out the "energy that exists naturally within people." "You don't learn to manage by completing an MBA," added Mintzberg.

The People Artists we interviewed for this book told us how important it is to bring out the best in others. They practiced their art in different ways but were united in their caring, listening, action-orientation, and strong drive to create meaningful results. They told us how important it was to carve out space and time to draw out the best in others. 

People Artists: Drawing Out the Best in Others at Work is our follow-up to People Artistry at Work: The Ennoblement Imperative. For this book we offer insights from 37 People Artists, practices to work on at the end of each chapter, and five tools relating to heart, head, and hands.

To bring out the best in others, People Artists also ensure they bring out the best in themselves. Lisa Sansome, working in Ontario, Canada, said People Artistry is, "about knowing yourself, knowing your strengths, and learning how to know others and their strengths too. It's about being positive-oriented and future-directed. It's about constructive criticism and growth mindsets. It's about having the best interests of others at heart, all the time, and realizing that there are always trade-offs."

If you are looking to embark with us on this interpersonal journey, you will be challenged to drop your own agenda and maybe, even your ego. You will be asked to be attentive with others. You will refuse to let opportunities to recognize and appreciate others slip away, despite the 101 demands on your time. You will offer your energy and your words to make someone's day - and do that every day.

If you engage with the challenge of People Artistry, you might discover what Don MacPherson said about his annual eight-hour Thanksgiving Day gratitude ritual. . Every Thanksgiving Day, Don drives to his office, rather than parking himself on his sofa to watch the annual Thursday afternoon NFL football match. He phones upwards of 120 employees, friends, family members, associates, and customers to individually thank them for the previous 12 months. Don literally puts abundant thanks into Thanksgiving. He says about it: It would be so easy to just stay home and watch the game, "but I do it because I really appreciate the contributions so many people have made in my work and family life. But in all honesty, I think I might be the one who gets the most from it." 

Henry Mintzberg stated the best management book in his course is an empty book given to participants to record their insights. We believe the same about People Artistry. We encourage you to work with an empty notebook or computer document to keep track of your progress with the recommended practices.

Here are three tips to keep in mind as you seek to become a People Artist:

1. Artists engage with their work. To be a People Artist, you must go beyond reading and engage with what you read. Each chapter offers you two exercises to practice. 

2. Consider who are the People Artists in your life. Who brought out the best in you at work or home? Write about how they did this and how you can incorporate this into your own People Artistry.

3. A number of brief anecdotes were used to start this chapter. What stories or experiences in your work or workplace stand out as good examples of People Artistry? What can you learn from those stories?

A version of this piece originally appeared in People Artists: Drawing Out the Best in Others at Work by Peter W. Hart & David Zinger. Hart is CEO of Rideau Recognition Solutions and founder of the Recognition Council, a Strategic Industry Group within the Incentive Marketin Association. More information about him can be found at www.peterwhart.com. Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and consultant, as well as founder and host of Employee Engagement Network. Read more at www.davidzinger.com.