Cheap Training Tip #2: A Picture is Worth a Bunch of Words

What’s your Leadership Brand? I used this activity mid-way through a leadership program to give participants an opportunity to evaluate their strengths and leadership qualities. The premise is simple: each of us has a unique “brand” or style of leadership. Of course what we may “think” our style of leadership is and what others see is a different story. This activity is a great one to create increased awareness among your participants about the power of perception, the importance of self-knowledge and the need for being true to the self. I am a strong advocate for emphasizing our individual strengths and this activity gives participants permission to identify and then map out their unique leadership qualities – no excuses. Once we as individuals can identify and then celebrate the unique attributes, styles and dimensions we bring to the leadership role, the easier it is for us to act it out. The idea is to help people clarify for themselves who they are as a leader, what they value and how they behave.

What you’ll need:
Numerous magazines – depending on number of participants, 3-4 magazines per participant
Scissors, glue sticks, construction paper, ribbon, basically, all of the fun crafty items for collage making
Poster board or foam core cut into 9″ x 12″ or 8″ x 10″ or 9″ x 12″

Pre-work: Assign a reading on personal leadership brand and introduce the activity by discussing the power of image. You may even want to review and discuss Johari Square as an introduction. Then, give the group time to create their own collage that best reflects their leadership style. The specific words that I use are: “you are to create a collage that represents how you want others to view you as a leader. Be sure the collage reflects your individual values, beliefs, strengths and attitudes that you bring to the leadership role.”

Give the group a good 30 – 40 minutes for the actual collage-making process. The last group I conducted this activity with really had a good time creating their collages and bonded over the course of this creative activity. Something about stimulating that right brain that brings a group together.

Finish the activity by having each individual show and then explain the key points of their collage. What is so cool about this activity is that you will all see how accurate each collage is. That is to say, Bill’s collage will eerily look like Bill; Jane’s will clearly resemble Jane, etc. It’s an eye-opener. Encourage them to post their collages in their offices or work areas. You may even want to provide participants with a frame (if you are not using foam core) to finish their collage.

Cost: $0 – $25 for supplies

A “cheap trick” that brings a whole lot of value to your participants.

Here’s a variation:

Watercolor or fingerpaint a portrait of a leader. For this variation, you will need more supplies, such as watercolors or finger paints, paper, easels (perhaps) and kitchy aprons. A bit more cost here: $30 – $100 for supplies. If you have a recreation center in your organization or in your community that offers watercolor classes or has crafting for kids or seniors, approach the Manager or teacher and see if you can strike a deal to use their facility and supplies for a small price. I’ll bet they’d be happy to let you use their facilities outside of their normal class times. Ask the teacher if he or she will even help you devise a creative workshop! Ask him/her to co-facilitate with you! Be bold!

** Some of you may be thinking “my employees are all left-brainers and there’s no way they’ll go for activities like this.” If that is your situation, you will want to properly plan for activities like this. First of all, you want to establish a certain amount of trust and team among the group so this doesn’t seem so risky. I also make sure that I educate my program participants about the value – and necessity – of creative activities which stimulate the brain and set the stage for ingenuity. But also, have faith in your participants. They’ll most likely surprise you. I am adament with participants about the importance of right-brain activities as a business need. You will be setting this activity up as the manifestation of research on the importance of self-awareness and personal branding. If you don’t give context and relevance, you could run the risk of the activity being viewed as fluff.

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Great idea, Karen. Do you get the Thiagi newsletter? A couple issues ago had my new favorite closing activity:

Kinesthetic Evaluation
This is my favorite closing activity for training sessions. I like this activity so much that I am probably overusing it. The main advantages of Kinesthetic Evaluation is that it can be conducted in less than 3 minutes and gets participants off their chairs. I have used the activity as a jolt to emphasize the learning point that it is not the activity but the meaning you assign to it that makes it important.

To conclude a training session on an upbeat and playful note.

To explore how we assign meaning to an activity.

Any number

2 minutes

Give the following instructions. Perform each action as you give the appropriate instruction.

Please stand up.

Close your eyes. Keep them closed tightly. Now open your eyes. Make sure your eyes are open for the rest of the activity.

Turn around completely 360 degrees so that you are facing the same direction you started with.

Raise your right hand and make a fist. Bring it down and touch the left side of your chest three times.

Please lower your hand.

Keep a poker face and explain the meaning of the activity in a serious tone:

In a few minutes, you will be filling out the standard smile sheet for evaluation purposes. I thought we should precede it with a whole-body evaluation activity.

Later, if anybody asks you about today’s training session, you can truthfully say:

It brought me to my feet.

It opened my eyes.

It turned me around completely.

It touched my heart.

Ask participants if they learned anything else from the activity. Explain what you learned: It is not the activity, but the meaning that we attach to it, that makes it important.