SRH Berlin University of Applied Sciences

Paintings for Leadership Development

Our student Venessa Njoroge used painting and journaling to develop her understanding of leadership.

Artistic and creative research approaches are a particular feature of the M.A. International Management - Creative Leadership study programme. Venessa Njoroge explored painting and journaling for leadership development in her practice-based research project. In addition to playing the role of researcher, she also executed the creative process and reported her insights. Linking to international leadership practice and research, she deployed acrylic painting and written journals to investigate what it means to be a leader. 

At their core, the arts are a means of comprehending, interpreting, and expressing our life experiences. The arts have been added to leadership development because they enable creative insights and further awareness and the ability to stay with one's senses. Leaders need these skills to adapt to a global and volatile business world. In this context, forms of self-directed leadership development where individuals take charge of their path are seen as a cost-effective way to increase individual and, in turn, the organisation's leadership capacity.

Venessa looks back on many years of experience with the medium of painting and has practical work experience from the United States, Switzerland, Kenia and Germany. She illustrates how artistic practice may create new opportunities for self-development for aspiring leaders. The artistic practice touches upon topics such as personal identity and the struggle with and acceptance of strengths and weaknesses (pictures 1 and 2); the search for sustainable ways of acting and managing on our tormented planet (picture 3); and the confidence to tackle challenging projects, experimenting outside the comfort zone and staying true to oneself (picture 4). 

Finally, she reflects on her identity (picture 5), writing: "I was able to discover how important it is to connect to your inner self to know who you are and what makes you genuine. The way I did my study benefited from the fact that I tend to express myself in a vulnerable and rich way when I am engaged in my creative art activities, such as journaling and painting." 

This research project inspires leaders to tap into their unique point of view and incorporate it into their actions. 

Project team

Venessa Njoroge, student in the M.A. International Management - Creative Leadership programme

Berlin School of Management