Be a People Artist at Work

Excerpt from Chapter 7 of “People Artists: Drawing Out the Best in Others at Work” by David Zinger and Peter W. Hart.

“People Artists: Drawing Out the Best in Others at Work” is a colorful hardcover book full of images and insights to inspire and enable managers and leaders to improve recognition and engagement. The book teaches the reader how to be a people artist by using their five very human tools. The heart cares. The ears listen. The eyes see. The lips express. The hands give. Co-author Peter W. Hart is the CEO of Rideau Recognition Solutions. The book is aligned and integrated with Rideau’s online Vistance learning platform teaching managers the skills of recognition.

See: The Eyes of the Artist

Do you see what is going on around you at work? Do you notice when someone cuts their hair or wears a new outfit? Do you see when someone is struggling? Do you see the contributions being made at work? Do you have vision for what is possible?

In many museums around the world, people are turning their backs to masterpieces, pulling out their phone or camera and taking a selfie with the work of art. On one hand, it is nice to be in the same frame as the art; yet on the other hand, people are failing to see firsthand what is right in front of them. A People Artist may take a selfie with the people she works with, but she also will see the person directly in front of her.

Ira M. Ozer, from Chappaqua, NY, told us about Randy Gilson from Pittsburgh who bought a dilapidated building and made the building come alive with art. Gilson saw potential, where others saw an eyesore. The building is now open to the public. Ozer believes Gilson used a physical structure to model and bring out the best in others by demonstrating that anything is possible with vision and collaboration.

Steve Roesler, a leading management consultant, offers clients practical ways to be extraordinary. He is also a loving husband who has supported his wife through a difficult medical
journey throughout the last two years. Steve’s People Artistry at work is powerful, yet pales in comparison to his devotion to his wife. He was eager to give his time to talk about People Artistry and said, “People Artists start with a clean brush.”

We must begin with a clear set of eyes and eliminate preconceived notions about people. According to Steve, People Artists make people feel, not just see. He said the organization is the canvas and people are the colors. People Artists “help individuals paint a portrait that clearly reflects exactly who they are; so that if they were a portrait in a gallery, anyone walking past would have a clear picture, as well.”

Michael O’Malley, vice president and National Practice leader of Higher Education at Sibson Consulting, co-wrote “Every Leader Is an Artist.” It is a wonderful adjunct book to the People Artistry books. From the book jacket:

Artists put their work on display for everyone to judge, accepting a position of vulnerability for want of something important to say and in the service of contributing to the common good. Artists bring people closer together by providing a forum for shared experiences. Artists challenge, excite, comfort, and motivate people, and they don’t learn their craft by reading about it in a book; they practice, push themselves and their means of expression, and execute, execute, execute. These are exactly the same things effective business leaders do day in and day out.

When your eyes are open to the best in others, you just might be amazed at what you see. And what you see will be people and sustainable results achieved through the artistry of achieving those results, while simultaneously building relationships.

A key tip in the Acknowledging Intent section of Rideau’s Vistance Learning Platform is to value and respect people while also recognizing the impact recognition has on both engagement and performance. Keep that in mind as you tackle this chapter’s exercises.

Your Practice

  1. Are you putting your People Artistry on display? Do you let people know how much you care with words and actions? Tomorrow at work, take time to stop, notice, and comment to five people about what you see or how you have seen them change.
  2. Craft your vision for People Artistry. How will you and the people you work with be better because of People Artistry? Perhaps you could start with a beautiful question about what people would see and hear from you that would let them know you care about them and want to bring out their best.

Excerpt from Chapter 7 of “People Artists: Drawing Out the Best in Others at Work” by David Zinger and Peter W. Hart. To learn more about the book, visit

Peter W. Hart is the CEO of Rideau Recognition Solutions. He is also a prolific artist with a gallery of his work in Old Montreal.

David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert from Winnipeg. He founded and hosts the 6,900-member global Employee Engagement Network.



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