Semiotics, the science of meaning, codes and communication, is an extremely powerful tool that can help leaders to be more effective by acquiring the most profound side of leadership: the building of sense, purpose, and vision, inspiration for the Self and for entire groups.
In Semiotics, Leadership can be analyzed in two very different ways:
(1) “Denotative Analysis” (or “Denotation”): examination of behaviors, communications, acts, relational styles, the external forms or “signs” used by leaders to build and convey their leadership, reinforce it, or simply “act” as leaders (clothing and dress codes, verbal style, non verbal style, the type of car, the painting on the wall, even the location chosen for a meeting, and literally anything that can become a “sign” of a personal way of interpreting leadership);
(2) “Connotative Analysis” (or “Connotation”): the personal interpretation of a sign, the internal representation of meaning, the “story” behind perceivable traits, the evaluation of behaviors as “good”/”bad”, of tasks as “easy”/”difficult”, of people as “active”/”passive”, and any other evaluation.
Denotative Analysis should be as much as possible “objective”, non-judgmental, descriptive, sensorial, refer to perceived signs without any attempt to judge it, while Connotation, on the contrary, is and must be the judgmental side, seeking to extract the “sense” of any sign, evaluate it, confront its essence with values, beliefs, and even personal norms.
The work I conducted during 30 years of research and practice identifies the 6 main “vectors” that leaders use in generating both their internal world-views and their external communication.
The Exa-Leadership models derives its name from the word Six (Exa) in Greek language. In this model, Leadership is a holistic spectrum that can arise from:
(1) higher levels of attribution of meaning to physical power, which produces external communication signs or “power display”, acts, behaviors, or symbols used to display power and control others, show force superiority, ability to generate fear, and seek group-member's need for a powerful group protector or Alpha Leader (Primal Leadership),
(2) attribution of meaning connected to the display of superior mental energies, superior motivational forces, being energetic and smart, motivated and mentally tough, an attitude perceivable in communication and behaviors, such as lack of fear, display of courage, determination, resistance and resilience, lack of anxiety, drive to action (Psychoenergetic Leadership),
(3) higher meanings attributing to managing the overall picture, showing a high level of skills across very different areas and fields of knowledge (Macro-Leadership),
(4) higher meanings attributed to being extremely good in highly specialized tasks, without need to getting the whole picture (Micro-Leadership),
(5) higher meaning attributed to display power and ability in managing the perfect execution of a task (Project Leadership), and
(6) higher level of meanings attributed to values, wisdom, and spirituality (Spiritual Leadership).
Any company places expectations and very often lots of money on shaping public opinion’s views about how it wishes to be perceived.
Perception Engineering is really the effort of shaping and manipulating perceptions by scientifically placing and choosing the right “Signs” that can convey the right “Perception” in a given target audience, or change it strategically.
Any Leader and any company derives its specific Leadership Style and Behaviors from a unique mix of one or more of the six factors.
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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