DISCLAIMER: I did not invent this leadership activity; it has been adapted for the purposes of this blog post. You are welcome to use it and adapt to your own needs as it is, as far as I can tell, in no way copyrighted/patented.

EDITOR’S NOTE: That said- if it is, please let us know!

In the 1800s, the word “swag” was a term used for stolen goods. As you are probably already aware, the connotative meaning of the word has changed quite a bit since then. Figuring what swag is, what it means to us, and how we use it as a device for development, can greatly inform our leadership styles and abilities.

We are going to pretend that each of the letters in the word “swag” stand for something; for the purposes of this activity the letters are going to stand for:

S – stuff
W – we
A – all
G – get

Now, expand upon each of these words for yourself or as a group:

S Stuff -What stuff are we talking about?
-What does this stuff represent/mean to us, to our programs, to our ideas?
W We -Who is we?
-What about this makes it collective i. e. more than one?
A All -How inclusive is this all?
-What are the implications and benefits of all?
G Get -What does getting something imply?
-What is important about having something?

Give this a try! See what thoughts it brings up for you or what ideas come out of a group of people doing this. You are also more than welcome to make the letters in swag stand for different things. Another idea to generate some more thoughts with regards to swag is to do an image search online for the word swag or a YouTube search. See what is out there with regards to this word that we sometimes do not think very much about and is simply a part of what we do. Let’s do some thinking about how and why we do “swag!”

I would love to hear how this goes when you or your colleagues/groups give this a try. If you have any questions or would like suggestions for other leadership activities please do not hesitate to contact me.

David Dodge


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