The Leader As Alchemist

Originally published at on October 27, 2015.

This is the tree outside my front door. It is at the peak of color today. A scientific process we’re all familiar with gives us this stunning color in the fall. Light, chemicals, DNA, temperature, all contribute to this process in nature.

Matter is transformed. A green leaf becomes a gold leaf. An alchemist in Medieval times had the job of converting base metals into gold. Some think an alchemist is a magician, creating, combining, and transforming.

At your leadership laboratory table you are creating structures, combining, and transforming so that the collective whole of your organization generates gold.

Can we transform common substances and resources into a substance of great value?


We often say that leadership is an art. Art is creating something where nothing existed before using a variety of materials that when combined in a unique way result in value. In that sense leadership very much is an art.


While artistry sounds elusive our business is made of systems. Observing how these systems interact can generate opportunity.

Cross Boundaries

The New Leadership Normal philosophy focuses on crossing boundaries. We have opportunities to combine resources in these boundaries. When we facilitate marketing people and IT people working together for example, magic can happen.


How can you better partner with suppliers and even competitors? Is there a start-up you could fund that will transform what you’re doing now?

Aim Higher

Take a meta approach. Analyze how you do things. Think process. It’s important to always talk about how a completed activity went. Always learn from the past and improve going forward. An attitude of just getting through the day is a disease to be eradicated.

The leader as alchemist creates, combines, and transforms available resources in a unique way that results in value.

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