What's Your Leadership Metaphor?

When I work with clients, I often ask them to define their leadership metaphor. I do this so that they have a vision of their goals and dreams with a helpful "mental visual" to work from. Do you have a leadership vision that can be explained with a metaphor? If you give it some thought, you likely have one, waiting to be discovered.

Let me give you an example:

My leadership vision is that everyone contributes their strengthts to the workplace, and together make the workplace strong.

My metaphor is the story of Stone Soup. In this story, two hungry travellers go to a village where the inhabitants are unwilling to share their food. The travellers bring out a big pot, and place a stone inside, adding water. The villagers are curious and are told that the stone will make a soup that is wonderful. The villagers want some, and are persuaded to add some of their food to make the soup even more tasty and filling. At the end of the story, everyone has contributed, and the nourishing soup is shared with all.

How does my metaphor "live" in my work? I have worked in some sites where everyone is in their own space, and working independently. Everyone seems to imagine that they are just like their colleagues and are working toward the same goals. But that is not always the case. In my leadership vision, I want and expect everyone to contribute, and honor their contributions. I look for ways to include everyone. I know that everyone has great things to share. It is a metaphor that guides me.

Metaphor can guide us in our work, but sometimes trip us up. In my next post, I will talk about the possible pitfalls of a leadership metaphor.


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