9 tasks of leadership, Task #7 – serving as a symbol

pattonDoolittle’s Raid, Merrill’s Raiders, Sherman’s Army, Patton’s Third Army, or the Eisenhower Administration – Each of them illustrate the role of the leader as mascot.

Every effective objective-oriented, results-focused group has an identifiable head. The military capitalizes on this well because military units are committed to accomplishment. Even small units within large ones have leaders who serve the role as mascots

The same is true in your organization or company. Here are 3 ways the mascot adds energy, depth, and validity to a group:

  1. Rallying point – leaders are, at least should be, the focal point of action and progress. Ineffective leaders often become the focal-point of dissatisfaction and resistance. You want to inspire people to identify and cooperate with your vision, participate in the many tasks required to bring that vision to reality, and share in the rewards of reaching objectives. Patton did this very, very well. General George McLellan did not.
  2. Identifying personality of the group – every group has a culture, a mood, a tone, a personality. Effective leaders become the identifying personality good or bad. Whether it be competitiveness, achievement, or even pettiness, the group you lead will inevitably take on your persona as a leader.
  3. Militaristic symbol of a fighting team – Only academics are content to be information gathering and white paper writing units. But even then, there are objectives to be reached that always validate the group’s very existence. The idea of a fighting team is the idea of talented, ambitious people uniting their efforts towards the unit’s goals. Leaders symbolize that and remind their team of not just how much is left to be done, but how much has been gained.

Let me ask you how well you serve your group as a mascot? What mascots have you worked with that you have found particularly effective? What other ways do you see that the mascot concept furthers leadership?

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