Clore Leadership Programme
Clore Leadership Programme

Want to be a Leader? I'd Rather be an Alchemist

Clore 14 Fellow Elizabeth Mischler suggests that being a traditional leader just isn’t good enough anymore and proposes that we apply alchemy to leadership

Elizabeth Mischler
Elizabeth Mischler

Leadership development is big business. A quick Google of those two words shows over 600,000,000 results. Apparently most people want to become better leaders. So did I when I began my Clore Fellowship… but not anymore. Now, I want to become a better alchemist.

We all have ideas as to what leadership is and in the dictionary many related words can be found. Among them are guidance, direction, authority, control, management, being first or among the first.

What about alchemy? Alchemy as an ancient “art” was concerned with changing base metals (i.e. lead) into gold. Alchemists attempted the impossible, experimenting with a process of mixing different elements together and pursuing transformation. The Oxford Dictionary defines alchemy as: A seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, or combination.

Let’s compare. As a traditional leader, one can successfully carve out a path and guide a way through, making things happen with others following. As an alchemist, one can transform and combine ideas and people to create something distinct. It will be seemingly magical, through its flow and synthesis.

At the heart of leadership are people, with their individual talents, abilities and ideas. The alchemy lies in the craft, skill and imagination with which these are intertwined. The alchemist is no longer attempting the impossible.  The alchemist is a true leader.

So what does one need to become an alchemist? What is the formula? Let’s look at a few key elements that every alchemist should have to hand…

To read or download the full provocation paper, click below. 




The Clore Leadership Programme, South Building, Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 1LA
Telephone: 00 44 (0) 20 7420 9430

Privacy Policy

Registered Charity Number 1105210
Company Limited by Guarantee in England and Wales Registered Number 5083008; VAT Number 882463303


Arts Council England     The Clore Duffield Foundation