Lines, Circles, and Arrows oh my!

Spence Pelfrey, Graduate Assistant for Leadership Programs offers his thoughts on the #NoTitleNeeded campaign.

As one of the planners and coordinators of the 2015 #NoTitleNeeded Campaign, I thought it would be helpful and innovative to create a new way of thinking of non-positional leadership. I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve explained the idea of leadership without authority or position and received a blank or confused stare or a multitude of follow up questions about how that’s even a thing.

I spent the summer working in the corporate world and saw just how rigid leadership can be. That’s not a shot at corporate structures, just an observation! In fact, many (and most) organizations are set up this way as well. As someone who wants to return to the corporate sector, my ultimate goal is to change that mentality. I found that while out of that arena, I needed to write or make something that identifies the themes and helps anyone think outside of the box.

My solution this go around was to make it a little easier for people to understand in a way that was fun, engaging, and easily applicable. So I created this video. The foundations come from our office’s approach to leadership, with hints of the video that Joe Wheeless created for last year’s campaign (that was our first video as an office and generated lots of great discussion!). My hope was that we could continue the discussion into this year and help students more deeply understand how non-positional leadership applies to them.

That’s where the shapes came into play.


First, there’s triangles. If you look at pretty much any organizational chart of a large company, it’s structured, rigid, and downright frustrating if you’re at the bottom. When we’re trying to flip the idea of leadership on its head, it’s simply not conducive with triangles. Anyway you flip a triangle, it’s still a triangle, and there’s a group of people who are working to create the base and people at the top who are reaping the benefits of their hard work.

So let’s think of leadership as lines – people are helping one another and each has their own unique skill that they’re contributing to the team. True lines are never ending, and thus there will always be a need for every person to contribute in order to reach checkpoints and goals.

If we look at circles, there’s everyone is contributing something to the circle and it’s being disseminated outwardly. All within the circle can contribute and clearly see (and be inspired) by others’ contributions. This inspiration is infectious and hopefully starts new circles around new goals.

Arrows are pointing towards progress. Sometimes we may not know the end goal simply because we are challenging something that’s never been challenged before. This takes innovation, strength, and willpower to push forward and create a movement. People exercise courage with arrows because of their willingness to not fear the unknown.

My question to you is, what shape is your organization? Is it flexible? Are you playing to your strengths?