There are many complex concepts that are represented with a single, widely recognized symbol. A heart means love. A red cross represents humanitarian effort. Green means go. A jack-o-lantern instantly says Halloween. Countries can be indicated by their flag. Christianity is conveyed with a cross and Judaism with the Star of David.

None of these symbols are literal representations of the concept behind them, yet they have come to communicate as much as words convey. The use of emojis is perpetuating the use of visual shorthand as now there is widespread use of one picture to transmit a larger meaning.

I began thinking about this when I was looking for an image to represent leadership. I came up empty. Leadership is a mainstream term, but I was unable to locate a universal symbol for it. There are many pictures of literal leaders: hierarchies and individuals on a pedestal or at the head of the table, but nothing that widely connotes the overarching concept of leadership in a single symbol as a pineapple is to hospitality.

Not only is there a need for stronger leaders today, but it seems that a universal leadership image is required as well. Any ideas?


About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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