In this leadership development activity, participants are asked to draw their own coat of arms symbolising the most important elements of their leadership philosophy. The coat of arms drawings are then debriefed and discussed together with the group.
After the exercise you may prepare a coat of arms gallery, exhibiting the leadership approach and philosophy of group members
Help participants reflect on their leadership philosophy and identify their main leadership values
In ancient and medieval times, a coat of arms was an emblem - unique design often painted on a shield - to represent an individual person, family or state.
Each symbol on the coat of arms represents something that has an important meaning to that person or country.
Every leader has certain things and values that they value and find important. Values that guide the leader's behaviour and embodies the leadership philosophy of the person.
In this exercise, participants are asked to create their own Leadership Coat of Arms.
- Brief participants about drawing their own Leadership Coat of Arms. Explain briefly the importance of consistent values in leadership and ask them to reflect what beliefs and values they find important as a leader
- Give a sheet of A4 paper or flipchart and a sharpie for each participant, and assign 10-15 minutes of time for them to draw their coat of arms, representing the 4 most important items they value in leadership. Encourage participants not be concerned about how nice their drawing is, the main thing is expressing what they think is important for a leader.
- After everyone finished their drawing, ask participants to share and explain their drawings (you may do it in groups of 4-6 participants, if you have many participants). Questions to consider:
- What items did you add to your Leadership Coat of Arms?
- Why are they important for you?
- After the discussion and debriefing round, you may ask participants to stick their coat of arms drawings to the wall, so you have a visual gallery of Leadership Coat of Arms
You may do this exercise with other focus areas, e.g with Teamwork instead of Leadership.
Tips for running this activity online
- Pick an online whiteboard tool that allows to use a large, zoomable canvas.
- Users can either draw their coat of arms on paper and upload an image into the board, or draw it digitally.
- In the reflection step, invite users to navigate to the coat of arms of the person speaking.
- If you don’t have an online whiteboard tool, you can use Slack or Google docs to share and comment on the created images.
- If using video conferencing software alone, invite the participants to share their screen and show their digital image, or hold up their physical drawing for the group to see.
- If running the activity in groups, use a video conferencing tool where you can assign the participants into breakout rooms (eg. Zoom).
- When briefing the exercise and assigning the groups to work together, keep all participants in the main video conference room and explain best practices.
- After this step is completed, turn on breakout rooms so each group can work on their tasks.
- After the group breakout groups are completed and participants return to the main room, debrief the exercise.
- If you do not have breakout sessions, keep everyone in the main room, though invite pairs and groups to communicate in private messages or small groups in Slack.
I've read about a similar exercise a while ago in the book 50 Activities for Developing Emotional Intelligence.