By writing a poem as a way to stretch one’s creativity, leadership concepts are explored and encouraged.
- To focus participants on the topic of leadership.
- Giving participants an opportunity to become acquainted and begin working together.
- Stimulating creative thinking.
Activity training methods
- Creative writing
- Pens or pencils
- 100 index cards for each group
- Tables and chairs for small teams of 3 to 5 people
Some participants will not be confident that they can achieve this task. Use it to show them how to harness their creative side and stretch themselves. This activity can be done in small teams or on an individual basis. If the latter, then each person would require a full deck of cards.
- Divide participants into small groups of 3 to 5 people each. Hand each group a pack of index cards and one sheet of paper.
- “Thinking about leadership in various ways can be instructive. If we stretch our imaginations, which often takes a linear form, we can discover fresh, new perspectives about our leadership strengths and challenges that will astonish us.”’
- Give the following directions:
“Your group will be creating a personal leadership “deck” of words or terms that fit the categories listed on the flipchart. You can work from the sheet of paper and then transfer one word to each card, or you can write directly on the cards. Decide this before beginning.”
- Your flipchart should show the following three categories:
The Five Senses (sight, touch, taste, sound, smell) (16 words for each of the five senses = 80)
Motion (10 words)
Abstractions (10 “abstractions,” such as leadership, love, freedom, meaning of life)
- Then explain the rules. All words or terms on the list must be:
Meaningful to you
Specific (not “tree,” but “aspen tree”; not “bird,” but “robin”)
Pleasing to the ear
Use no adverbs and no plurals.
- Begin the poetry part of the activity with this explanation:
“When you have 100 words or terms written on the cards, spread
them out. Choose cards that you can use to create a poem about
leadership. Take 15 to 20 minutes to write a poem that supports the
theme of leadership. Add more words as needed to flesh out the poem.”
Offer the participants the following as an example of a poem:
Why does leadership make me think of bright, white light?
Is it the leader’s clarity I feel as comfort?
The leader is a beacon through the night.
Is it the leader’s gentle pressure I feel as comfort?
When I think of Leadership, it is a fresh, fragrant flag.
Is it the leader’s support that gives me comfort?
The leader beckons and makes me glad.
Is it their insistent, but gentle, speech that gives me comfort?
Comfort to follow; comfort to growing.
I am glad my Leader is in the know.
- When the groups have finished, have one member of each group read their poem to the total group. Encourage applause.
- Post the poems (or collect them and make copies for everyone) and bring the session to a close. The trainer concludes the activity by congratulating all the burgeoning poets and suggesting that they think about leadership as involving every sense and feeling identified in their poems.
Take time shortly after conducting this activity to ponder on how it went, how consuming the participants were, and what questions they raised. Then, make notes that include how much time you actually spent on the activity.