The Symbolic Leader
Even if we don't realize it, virtually everything means something to us. It's just a human condition. One important part of leadership is the symbolic messages that leaders send out, symbolic actions whose meanings are deeply understood in our societies, even if we don't consciously think about it.
Symbolic actions include the kinds of stories leaders tell and how they use those stories to frame their moment in time and their organizations' place; in rituals like meetings and award presentations; in any public action where they are seen by the rank and file, such as speaking on the news, opening a store or walking through a production line.
Not all leaders believe these actions are important: that's symbolic, too. Choose your own symbolic actions, but make sure you understand their impact on your organization. When you walk out on a stage to speak to a group, you're participating in one of the oldest and most meaningful rituals in human history. Everyone in that audience is looking to be satisfied by a display of leadership, and most of them will know it if they see it.
And remember, the actions may be symbolic but the results are not.