Symbols of Leadership

Leadership, team building, goal setting, people skills etc activities are pretty common place in many businesses these days.In different shapes and forms companies invest time and money into them to be the best and provide the best for their employees.

Traditionally, at least in my experience, these leadership activities are performed using the same fundamentals but using the latest and greatest ‘technique’.In the end regardless of what you are trying to lead (business vision, profit targets, teamwork, a re-structure, product launch) the same leadership fundamentals are applied.The main difference really is how much input you’re willing to receive in the process (Brainstorm vs Presentation for example).

So here’s a new trick to throw in your kit bag.My thoughts are that it can be applied in pretty much any leadership activity but it’s maybe best placed and demonstrated for goal setting.Go out and find yourself a physical totem!

A totem should be something that will remind the group of the goal you want them to achieve everytime they see it.The beauty of the totem is that it is a physical item, usually something novel which carries the message.No colourful powerpoint slide written once and forgotten for the year, rather the totem is a constant reminder of the goal.

The idea comes from Allan Leighton, I highly recommend his book On Leadership in which he shares a few examples of totems (extract).Here are a few quick examples from Allan;

  • A Blow-up Banana: Since it was the biggest selling item the goal was to increase other product sales to match.
  • A Coat hanger: no jackets required.
  • A 10ft ruler: if you come within 10ft of a customer you should say hello

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