The Five Powers of Leadership Rituals

rituals habits creativity leadership

Innovative leaders wrongly resist patterns. They fear repetition constricts and bores. “Don’t fence me in.”

However, rituals set leaders free.

Think of rituals as tiny behaviors that yield disproportionate benefits. One of mine is rising early and placing my fingers on the keyboard. It’s 3:44 a.m. as I type this. I wasn’t sure what would come out until I touched the keys.

Rituals express conscious intentions not unconscious habit.

Doug Conant’s chief of staff told me he thanks his office staff at the end of each day. I’m certain she looks forward to his personal visit at days end.

Gratitude is an intentional ritual not an unconscious habit for Doug. It’s a leadership ritual he’s sincerely performed for years. He wrote over 30,000 thank you notes to Campbell’s Soup employees during his 10 year stint as CEO. By the way, Campbell’s employee roster was fewer than 30,000.


  1. Open doors to more.
  2. Clear minds for what’s next.
  3. Establish safe platforms.
  4. Provide predictability.
  5. Unleash creativity.

Habits become boring but rituals add vitality.


Where can you adopt rituals?

  1. Greetings when days begin.
  2. End of day farewells.
  3. Project kick-offs.
  4. Debriefing sessions.
  5. Feedback conversations.
  6. Responding to interruptions.
  7. ???


Intention breathes life into ritual. How do you want people to feel after you greet them in the morning? Use your intention to create a tiny ritual. Perhaps it’s a pause after saying good morning that expresses receptivity.

Create a ritual for interruptions.  Maybe it’s removing your hands from the keyboard when someone pops their head in your office door.

What rituals might enhance your leadership effectiveness?

Where might rituals fit your office or organization?

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