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Top 15 Symbols of Leadership With Meanings

Top 15 Symbols of Leadership With Meanings

People working for leaders aren’t inspired or influenced by words and thoughts. We are all moved by images, emotions, and feelings. Inspiring leaders work with vision, purpose, and passion for keeping their team motivated. They use analogies, stories, metaphors, anecdotes, illustrations, and most importantly, symbols of leadership! 

Here are the top 15 symbols of leadership that signify the strength, determination, and passion that leaders emanate:

1. Dragon

Golden dragon.
Dragon as a symbol of leadership
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Both Western and Eastern cultures regard this mythological monster as a symbol of power and strength. Dragons are used as symbols of leadership and power, as well as wealth and good luck, in the East, where they are more prominent.

The emperor of China has used the dragon as a royal emblem to signify his power and imperial authority throughout history. This comes from traditions that claim the Yellow Emperor, China’s first monarch, transformed into a glorious dragon before ascending to heaven.

Dragons were thought to guard the planet and act as gateways to other realms in Celtic mythology and were often represented by the gods. They were the most formidable of all Celtic emblems, guarding the universe’s secrets and riches.

The dragon, as a symbol of power and strength, is utilized to honor persons who possess these qualities. Being referred to a dragon implies that you are powerful and strong.

2. Eagle 

Eagle close-up shot.
Eagle as a symbol of leadership
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In the Near East and Europe, the eagle has always symbolized dynasties and leadership as well as power and strength. Usually, the golden eagle was used in connection with leaders.

Eagles are big prey birds with strong bodies. They don’t have any natural predators; they have even been seen eating creatures considerably bigger than themselves.

The golden eagle emblem was chosen by Napoleon, the famous French leader, to represent his military, and the animal was drawn on the imperial coat of arms of the French.

In Aztec culture, the eagle was a symbol of power. After finishing their training, soldiers were rewarded with eagle paintings. According to the illustrations, these soldiers had achieved great things not just in raw power but also in terms of heroism and courage.

3. Thunderbolts 

Thunderbolt as a symbol of leadership
Image by Corinna Stoeffl from Pixabay

A thunderbolt, often known as a lightning bolt, is linked with the “Sky Father” in mythology from the Indo-European region (Zeus was the leader of the Greek Gods, after all!). It has also been mentioned in a variety of different mythology, mostly used as a heavenly weapon of weather and sky gods.

Throughout history, the thunderbolt symbolizes unparalleled strength. In reality, military symbolism often uses the thunderbolt insignia.

The thunderbolt is also a symbol for the Norse God, Thor, the defender of humanity and the deity known for his raw power and legendary strength. He is often written and showcased as the most powerful among all gods, according to Norse mythology.

The emergence of the legendary thunderbird, a creature of enormous power and strength, is likewise linked to the thunderbolt.

4. Ailm 

Celtic Ailm.
Celtic Ailm

The ailm is an ancient Celtic sign with an enigmatic origin but a profound meaning. The plus sign symbolizes power, endurance, and perseverance, while the circle surrounding it indicates completeness and soul purity.

5. Boar

A wild boar.
Wild Boar as a symbol of leadership
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Boars, also known as wild swine or pigs, are assumed to have come from the Southeast Asia region in the Early Pleistocene and expanded over the Old World.

The swine god, Moccus, from the Celtic era, who was linked to Mercury, is connected with the boar. Wild boars were a sign of power to the Celts since they were seen to be strong, fearsome, and deadly.

King Richard III of England was also a fan of the boar emblem. During his brief reign, which lasted from 1483 to 1485, he wore the White Boar insignia.

6. Sphinx

Sphinx of Giza.
Sphinx of Giza as a symbol of leadership
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The sphinx, like the griffin, has a lion’s body but a falcon’s head. It is one of the most lasting leadership symbols of Greek and Egyptian civilizations. The sphinx symbol is sometimes represented with falcon wings.

The depictions, on the other hand, differ. The sphinx may have the head of a sheep, cat, or a human (this is the most common). 

The sphinx created many wicked riddles to test its prey and victims in ancient Greece . Its symbology has been taken to imply cruelty, mystery, and cunning. 

In contrast to the negative reputation of its Greek counterpart, this monster was seen as a guardian who protected treasures, gates, and secrets as a beneficent protector in the Egyptian Civilization.

The sphinx’s combination of the body of the lion and the head of a human is said to symbolize intellect and power.

The Great Sphinx of Giza, located near the famous Giza pyramids, is the world’s most famous sphinx. The Great Sphinx continues to be an important part of Egyptian land, serving as Egypt’s national symbol, appearing on the country’s coins, flags, official papers, and stamps.

7. Oak Tree

Oak tree on a hill.
Oak Tree as a symbol of leadership
Image Courtesy: Max Pixel

The great oak was revered as a holy tree in many ancient European societies and was linked with power, wisdom, and endurance.

The tree was regarded holy in Greco-Roman civilization and was among the emblems of their major god, Zeus/Jupiter, a great leader of the Gods. The tree was also sacred to the Celts, Slavs, and Norse since it was intimately related to various thunder gods.

The Celtic term for the tree was drus, which may also be used as an adjective to mean “strong” or “hard.” 

8. Uruz

Uruz carving.
Uruz as a symbol leadership
Armando Olivo Martín del Campo, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Uruz is a sign of power and untamed might. The uruz sign also represents development, self-control, perseverance, and drive -perfectly embodying all leadership qualities. 

The uruz rune is the ox’s rune. It comes from the words ruz, which means “wild ox,” and r, which means “water.”

The aurochs were an extinct animal species of a big wild bovine, known to roam Europe, North Africa, and Asia. The last auroch is rumored to have passed in the Jaktorów Forest in 1627.

9. Lion

Lion lying on grass.
Lion as a symbol of leadership
Daughter#3CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Since time immemorial, the lion, like the eagle, has functioned as a symbol of power and strength, as well as that of rulers, across many civilizations.

The Egyptian Goddess of battle and the vindictive manifestation of Ra‘s strength, Sekhmet, was often represented as a lioness.

The lion is one of the emblems of Gilgamesh, a demigod, who was known for his heroic exploits and superhuman power in Mesopotamian mythology. The lion was connected with bravery and nobility in ancient Persia.

10. Tabono

Tabono symbol – Adinkra symbol for strength.
Tabono symbol – Adinkra symbol for strength 

Adinkra from West Africa are symbols that signify numerous themes and may be seen in many West African civilizations’ textiles, ceramics, architecture, and logos, notably among the Ashanti people.

The Tabono is a common adinkra sign symbolizing power, perseverance, and hard labor: all the qualities of great leaders. It is shaped like four connected oars.

In this context, ‘strength’ refers to one’s willpower rather than physical strength, perfect for modern-day leaders. 

11. Pempamsie

Pempamsie Symbol – Adinkra symbol for strength.
Pempamsie Symbol – Adinkra symbol for strength

Another symbol from West Africa that reflects notions of power is the pempamsie. The sign, which resembles chain links, denotes persistence and tenacity, as well as power gained through unification (teamwork wins all!). 

12. Hamsa 

Hamsa accessory.
Hamsa as a symbol of leadership
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The Hamsa (pronounced Khamsah in Arabic, meaning the number of 5) is a palm-shaped sign that represents blessings, power, femininity, and strength in the Middle East –the best symbol of leadership for people breaking the glass ceiling every day! 

It is mostly used to protect against evil eyes and ill luck in general. The symbol’s history can be traced directly to ancient times when it was utilized in both Mesopotamia and Carthage.

It’s also possible that it’s related to an emblem from Ancient Egypt Mano Pantea, a similar style emblem used in ancient Egypt.

13. Jaguar 

Jaguar close-up shot.
Jaguar as a symbol of leadership
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The jaguar is among the world’s biggest big cats and an alpha predator in the tropics of the New World.

The fearsome beast was seen as a terrified animal by many pre-Columbian societies, who utilized it as a sign of might and authority.  The jaguar became a symbol of monarchy in later Mayan civilizations, and many rulers were given the title of Balam, the Mayan term for the Jaguar. 

The animal was likewise beloved by the Aztecs who lived nearby. It was an emblem of soldiers and warriors as well as an emblem of the Jaguar Knights, their elite military unit. 

The sun is also connected with the Phoenix, a Greek mythological immortal bird that dies and is reborn from the ashes. The manner in which it dies varies according to legend.

Some believe it just dies, but it’s most often shown as exploding into flames and transforming into ashes, in which it rises and is reborn.

14. Phoenix

A Phoenix.
Phoenix as a symbol of leadership
Craftsmanspace / CC0

It was credited to Ancient Egypt by Herodotus. Egyptian literature may have been affected by classical folklore, according to modern researchers.

The phoenix has grown in significance beyond its roots, becoming a symbol of global resilience, strength, rejuvenation, and resurrection. It was often used by pharaoh leaders in Ancient Egypt. 

15. Griffins

An engraving of a Griffin.
Griffin as a symbol of leadership
National Gallery of Art, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Griffin is a legendary monster with a lion’s body and a bird’s head, generally that of an eagle. It might be wingless or have wings. Mediterranean and Ancient Middle Eastern people employed the griffin emblem as a prominent ornamental element. 

Christians think that griffins are tied to the sun and that their presence denotes the sun’s abundance. Griffins are symbols of power, as well as invincibility, and watchfulness in Christian art. It’s no surprise that leaders like Alexander the Great chose the griffin as his emblem.

Griffins are significant to Christians because Michael the Archangel is associated with them. A griffin with its paw on a ball is thought to symbolize enlightenment, which is said to guard the knowledge represented by the orb. An enlightened leader is definitely a powerful one! 


These symbols of leadership can be the best emblem you need for your leadership role inspiration! 

Header image courtesy: Ahmed shoukry 95, CC BY-SA 4.0 (cropped), via Wikimedia Commons