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Painting by Numbers

Optimize Blog - August 24, 2012 - 0 comments

Performance is usually measured as a combination of ability and motivation. In the case of Spanish amateur restorer Cecilia Gimenez there appears to have been plenty of motivation but perhaps a lack of ability. Let us explain.
Cecilia, who is in her 80’s, is a parishioner of the Mercy Church near Zaragoza, Spain who became upset at the deterioration of a particular work of art in the sanctuary due to moisture damage. The artwork in question is the work entitled ‘Ecce Homo’ (Behold the Man) by Elias Garcia Martinez which has held pride of place in the church for more than 100 years.
Apparently the once-dignified portrait has been described as now resembling a crayon sketch of a very hairy monkey in an ill-fitting tunic and the delicate brush strokes of Elias Garcia Martinez have been buried under a haphazard splattering of paint.
Stunned Spanish cultural officials said she had the best intentions and they now hope it could be properly restored. Cecilia has claimed that she had the permission of the priest to carry out the job and her granddaughter Teresa said her grandmother had painted the tunic of the painting before, but the fresco got rather ruined when she attempted to paint Christ’s head.
A further irony is that the local centre that works to preserve artworks had just received a donation from the original painter’s granddaughter which they had planned to use to restore the original fresco.
So, having plenty of motivation but no ability can get you in trouble. Equally having lots of ability but no motivation will deliver poor performance. Here at Zeitgeist we add a third element to the performance equation and we say that Performance equals Ability multiplied by Motivation, multiplied by understanding of the role (P = A x M x R).
Cecilia not only underperformed through a lack of ability but she confused her role with that of a church fresco restorer. We see a parallel regularly within our leadership consulting practice. We meet plenty of people that are motivated and have the right ability but they haven’t quite figured out what the role of a leader is. This is a perennial discussion – the difference between a manager and a leader.
For us there is a simple demarcation. You manage situations but you lead people. This means that you cannot be a good leader if you cannot manage and you cannot be a good manager if you cannot lead. Striking this balance for each situation a leader faces on a day to day basis is crucial for success.
Cecilia realized that she was out of her depth and contacted the city department in charge of cultural affairs. Next week she will meet with a repairer and explain what kind of materials she used. Apparently, if the fresco cannot be fixed, the church will cover the wall with a photo of the original. For leadership mistakes, the solution is rarely that simple.

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