In Harry Potter, there is a defensive spell called the Patronus Charm. When a wizard or witch casts the spell, a ghost-like guardian – called a Patronus – appears. The patronus usually takes the shape of an animal that has similar characteristics to the individual. Now, you may not be able to choose your Patronus, but you ARE able to choose what type of leader you want to be everyday. That’s where a leadership metaphor is useful.

Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter film casting a rabbit Patronus

 

Think of the type of leader you want to be. What adjectives do you use? Do you think of an animal like a wolf, a lion, or a dolphin? Are there any images, symbols, or phrases that come to mind when you think of your personal leadership style?

For example, you might think of your leadership as a snowball that gains traction and grows more powerful as it rolls down a hill. Or your leadership might be a lightning bolt that injects inspiration, energy, and goal-oriented action. Whatever it is, your leadership metaphor is subject to change as it reflects where you are in your leadership development.

Why do you need a leadership metaphor? A metaphor gives you a powerful and clear image of who you want to be, what you want to learn, and how you want to grow. Your leadership metaphor describes how you contribute to the world, so it isn’t dependent on your job title, financial situation, or relationship status.

And don’t forget – metaphors are powerful when used in storytelling. Next time an employer asks you about your greatest strength or you fill out an award application, your leadership metaphor can explain who you are in a concise and dynamic way.

Ready to visualize your leadership metaphor? Need some inspiration? Let me share my leadership metaphor.

As an ISFJ, it’s in my nature to care for others before I care for myself. I am fiercely loyal, I have a empathetic heart, and I don’t believe in doing anything half-assed. About a year ago, I came across a modern affirmation on Pinterest. As soon as I read it I knew I discovered my leadership metaphor. Here it is:

 

“I am a lighthouse rather than a lifeboat. I do not rescue, but instead help others to find their own way to shore, guiding them by my example.”

 

A lighthouse shining in the dark is my leadership metaphor

My metaphor for leadership is a lighthouse. A lighthouse reminds me to lead with authenticity, vulnerability, and integrity. I radiate quietly and restore myself regularly. I want to be a leader who is a beacon of hope, resilience, and empowerment. My core values and beliefs provide a solid foundation that can withstand storms of adversity. And as a lighthouse, I want to light the way for other people to become leaders too.

And it’s as simple as that!

Take some time to reflect on your leadership metaphor and the person you want to become. You’ll gain some self-awareness and a new lens to view the world as a leader.


What’s your leadership metaphor? Let me know in the comments below!