The “Power Profile” that emerges shows graphically the type of Leadership style. Here is a sample.
Primal Leadership has a direct link with our animal side, the most basic instincts of survival, sex, reproduction, food, defense and attack, which require strength and fighting.
The external signs of this leadership attitude are everywhere and depict a historic stage of humanity where the animal side of humans is still the grounding force of external communication acts, even in the business environment, despite any tie or effort to acquire a higher status as “enlighted” species.
This can be the observed clearly in how western sports (as Soccer or Football, Volley or Basket) still contain a very high dose of combat and aggressiveness. Even more, combat sports, as seen in western MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) adopt a “Primal Style” of Martial Arts: external signs are filled with strong bodies, tattoos, and muscularity, behaviors as confrontation, aggression, and visually, lots of blood. For those who adopt this view, if there is not enough blood, the fight has not been good enough. Instead of showing the deep respect of the adversary in the pre-match confrontation, athletes are expected to practice “trash talk”, offend each other, show disrespect, and “fire up” the atmosphere, very likely to enhance viewer’s smell for blood. Everything is loud, from the music to the public screaming and the level of aggressiveness.
This is a completely different way of interpreting the meaning of the word “Martial Art” if we confront it with oriental cultures and practices, such as in Karate, Judo, Aikido, Wushu, Taekwondo, and many others, where the “Signs” use are much more clean, minimal, there is no unneeded aggressiveness whatsoever except for the focused action, participants are expected to behave with great composure and respect, atmosphere is permeated by mystical forces, deep inner strength, search for spirituality, no need for excessive external strengths display. The emphasis is on the search for inner energy (the “Chi”, “Ki” “Qi”) that needs no external demonstration, even when Martial Arts (as for Samurai or Ninja warriors) became a matter of life and death.
The same distinction holds true for Leadership Style. We can have an “externally powerful” Rambo-like leadership style, based on show of power, aggressiveness, status symbols like huge cars, building, private airplanes, behaviors of “boldness” and power, or a “Chi-based” style of leadership emphasizing inner strengths, based on remaining humble and internally powerful without any need to “overshow”.
These two distinct styles can be analyzed deeply by means of Denotative Analysis (what external and perceivable signs and behaviors leaders use) and Connotation Analysis (what meaning are conveyed by specific signs and behaviors). So, the Tao symbol becomes not only a graphical display, but the symbol of an entire worldview of the search for harmony and inner energies. And on the contrary, a “Death Skull” symbol becomes the sign of bravery, the lack of fear and love for fight. A storm can be used to visually “suck” the meanings associated to rapidity, flash action, power and devastating energies.
The choice of any symbol will denote not only a graphical choice, but the appreciation or belonging of the individual to an entire world-view.
Semiotics is not just visual, it is poli-sensorial. The way you shake hands can convey meanings (gentle, strong, or agitated), what you eat and the way you eat it, even the way you walk and your posture.
The same holds true for the choice of a manger of a specific dress-code, the verbal and nonverbal signs used, the perfume he/she will use, the place where he/she will want to set the next meeting or the painting on the walls.
The following figure shows another set of images that convey entire “worlds of meaning” in every single image. What is important, is to understand that the understanding of symbols is not “automatic”, they depend on the culture, on interpretation, on the understanding of what “layers of meaning” are behind any sign.
Further Key Concepts of the book by Trevisani, Daniele (2015). Semiotics for Leaders. The Exa-Leadership Model for Leadership and Human Potential Development, Medialab Research Publishing, Ferrara. ISBN: 978-1-329-59007-6. Amazon link to the book
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