The power of symbolic action

Never underestimate the power of symbolic in communication.

In fact, there are times when words have lost their meaning and a leader or organisation needs the power of action to illustrate connection to the audience.

Back in the 80s, Ronald Reagan stood at the Brandenburg Gate and challenged his Soviet counterpart to tear down the Berlin Wall.  He could have said the same words in the White House in Washington but his speech had gravitas when spoken in front of the very symbol of Soviet separation.  Likewise, at times of crisis, we want to see our leaders on the frontline, shirt sleeves rolled up, being briefed by the response team.  Leaders perceived to be hidden away in times such as these will almost always suffer a public backlash.

For companies and organisations there are times when words are simply not enough.  Consumers want proof of action.  Observe the introduction of tamper proof packaging in the wake of incidents where a rogue individual has placed a poisonous substance in a health product: Was that really necessary to protect the health of people buying the product? Probably not – it was a one-off action unlikely to be repeated.  But the nature of trust that needs to exist between makers of certain products and consumers demands that the manufacturers be seen to be going above and beyond.

Yes, sometimes words aren't enough.  Is your organisation needing to go beyond words?  Do you need to stop talking and start acting?