The Importance of Leadership Metaphors

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Earlier this week, we hosted a free webinar, New Lenses on Leadership: Discovering the Power of Leadership Metaphors for Development and Action with David Magellan Horth and Charles J. Palus.

David Horth is an accomplished designer, facilitator, and executive coach. He is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) in the Design & Evaluation Center. He is considered a worldwide expert on organizational creativity. David is the co-author of The Leader’s Edge: Six Creative Competencies for Navigating Complex Challenges and he holds a B.Sc. (Hon) from the University of Surrey.  

Chuck Palus is also a Senior Fellow at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®). He is the co-author of Making Common Sense: Leadership as Meaning-making in a Community of Practice and The Leader’s Edge: Six Creative Competencies for Exploring Complex Challenges. He holds a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from Pennsylvania State University and a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Boston College.

The webinar began with audience participation. Everyone was shown a deck of cards and asked to respond with which one they related to the most. “Think about the way you are at your best as a leader.” Then pick a card that describes that. The “Circle of Inclusion” card was a very popular one. Many participants saw this image as an depiction of how they lead. “Creative Troubleshooters” was another popular card.

To fully understand the webinar, you must first understand, “What are metaphors?” Metaphors and analogies are fundamental modes for thinking and living. For every thought we have. Leadership metaphors include:

  • Direction
  • Alignment
  • Commitment

This is also known as the DAC Framework.

“The nature of change itself is changing. Our attempts as applying what we already know – tried and tested solutions to complex leadership challenges, may make the challenges even more complex.”

The Leadership Metaphor Explorer Kit  contains one set of 83 cards, with illustrated metaphors for shared work and leadership. It is used for, “personal reflection, peer coaching, and leadership development events.” It helps you decide, “What kind of leader do I want to be? How do I see you? What kind of leadership culture do we have? What kind do we want? What’s our leadership strategy?” This kit will help you bring Leadership Metaphors to your organization.

People tend to think that flash cards are not for them. However, this webinar showed how they can be used all over the world, in all sorts of environments, and have a very far reaching and important outcome.

Nearly 200 people tuned in to listen to this webinar live and one participant remarked, “Great content and am looking forward to exploring its use.”

We recommend management and supervisory skills.


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