People Artists: Drawing Out the Best in Others at Work

by David Zinger | Posted | Leadership

People Artists: Drawing Out the Best in Others at Work

When people first hear the term "people artist" in relation to work, they're curious. What does art have to do with work? What does it mean to be a people artist?

Peter W. Hart and I co-wrote, "People Artists: Drawing Out the Best in Others at Work." We believe it's imperative to bring artistry to our work.

Henry Mintzberg declared management needs: "...the order of science, while being rooted in the practicality of craft, with some of the zest of art."

Denise Bissonnette, one of the people artists we interviewed for the book, stated, "It's not the nature of an activity that makes it art: it's how we approach the task. From this broader definition, the path of the artist is available to us all every day, in every domain of our lives."

Our book brings you both zest and tools to follow the neglected path of drawing out the best in others. Here are some frequently asked question about the book.

Where did the term "people artist" originate?

Peter W. Hart is the CEO of Rideau Recognition Solutions and a well-established artist with a gallery in Old Montreal. I had been watching him work in his art studio and from there we went to his workplace with over 200 employees.

As I watched him work with paint then people, I witnessed his ability to use color to bring out the best from a canvas and to use acknowledgement, appreciation, and recognition to bring out the best in the people at work.

I said, "Peter, you're an artist but you're also a people artist, your workplace is your studio, people are your medium and your canvas is filled with recognition, connection and engagement."

Okay, so Peter may be a "people artist", but what about the rest of us?

We believe anyone can be a people artist. Some of us may find it easier, but people artistry is a skill you develop, not a special talent or gift of a chosen few.

Our book points you in the right direction and offers you twenty practices based on your heart, ears, eyes, lips and hands. These five core human tools enable us to care, to listen, to see, to voice, and to give.

Why do we need people artistry when we already have human resources?

People artistry is our plea to focus on the person, not a human resource. People are not resources that should just be managed; they are people we work with every day.

People artistry doesn't reside in a specific department or area of the business; it needs to touch every person from co-workers and people we manage, to cleaning staff and security guards.

We trust that after reading "People Artists," you'll personalize your approach to work. Think of being a people artist as your way to repay the debt to someone who brought out the best in you.


Yes, debt.

Everyone I ask has been able to identify another person, and often many people, who brought out the best in them in their life and career.

I encourage you to pause and think right now about who brought out the best in you. You owe it to that person to now spread the artistry by bringing out the best in someone else.

How do I practice people artistry?

People artists use their heart, ears, eyes, lips, and hands to bring out the best in others.

You don't find people artistry inside a policy manual, you find it inside yourself and then move it outside of yourself to give to others.

Why is the book so brief?

Books on leadership, engagement, recognition, and work need to be short. Who has time or energy for a 300-page leadership book and how often do you find authors repeating themselves again and again as you get past page 50?

Our book is under fifty pages. Yet it contains, eighteen full page paintings, ten chapters with insights and stories from thirty-nine people artists, a 25-question self-assessment, and twenty practices to transform your reading into artistry.

We want to encourage and enable you as quickly as we can to be a people artist, using the book as a launching pad to express your artistry in the workplace. People artistry is about reading people, not books, and enlivening and ennobling other people's character, abilities, strengths, and contributions.

Who should read this book?

We want managers and leaders to read this book as they transform disengagement and drudgery and perform a daily work of art with people at the forefront of their organization or business.

It was an honor to share the first copies of "People Artists" with attendees at the Halogen Customer Conference in Ottawa this past September. I conducted a session called "The Pyramid of Employee Engagement" and offered some copies to participants at the end of the session. I was overwhelmed when 36 people from a small breakout session lined up to acquire an autographed copy.

What can I do today?

Peter and I would love you to buy the book as a gift for all your leaders or managers.

Sign the inside cover yourself and give it to each of your managers and leaders to encourage them to make your workplace a canvas of recognition and results.

If this appeals to you, I invite you to email me directly. If you order 10 or more copies of the book, we'll reduce the price from $19.95 to $14.95. Email me at: to find out more.

Don't settle for complacency and a lack of connection at work. The last words on people artistry belong to Vincent Miholic, one of the people artists we interviewed for the book: "Satisfaction is an example of complacency; engagement is an example of artistry."

Employees are looking for a \'family-feel\' culture

Learn how to engage and develop your staff with insights from CIPD\'s Employee Outlook 2015 survey.

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Cover of the book
Cover of the book

Employees are looking for a \'family-feel\' culture

Learn how to engage and develop your staff with insights from CIPD\'s Employee Outlook 2015 survey.

Watch Now

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