Inventing the Future: The Leader as a Story Teller

Inventing the Future: The Leader as a Story TellerHow leaders can construct an authentic organisational narrative

Why are many of today's leaders stuck in a void between Facebook and indigenous cultures? Why is checking morning emails more dangerous than smoking marijuana? Why does Coke taste better when you know its Coke? What did stories tell us about Enron and the Subprime credit crunch before they tanked? Are Dilbert's Kafkaesque bureaucratic mission statements more genuine than yours? How did the Australian Aboriginals sustain their environment for tens of thousands of years without a government or the internet? What stories did the last of the Easter Island leaders tell as they cut down their final tree? What can a child snowboarder teach us about leadership?

Effective leaders have a clear picture about their basic purpose and their teams share a common set of values, which provides a vision and drives actions towards high performance. The stories leaders share about the organization reveal the predominant corporate culture. The deliberate use of story can also be instrumental in shaping the culture. By identifying the stories people tell and analysing these, it is possible for leaders  to gain an understanding of significant experiences and issues that may need to be acknowledged and managed. Leaders must be responsible for creating stories that express hopes and desires, based on the needs identified and values and vision for the future, and this in turn will help to transform organizational culture. The best way to predict the future is to invent it.

As information becomes a commodity and today’s excellence becomes tomorrow’s norm, companies will have to understand the power of “story” in their organization to move forward. Leaders must ensure that every person in the company knows, understands and can live this “story”. Story telling can significantly influence success, morale and direction of a company. The story telling leader will recognize that delivering good generic customer service will no longer be enough to distinguish a business, and that in order to deliver consistent experiences throughout the organization, every individual will need to understand the important role story telling takes and live by it.

Focus Areas

Focus areas can include:

  1. What’s next, and does it matter? How baby boomers can still lead Generation X, & how the  ‘Me’ generation can learn to coexist with the ‘I’ generation - the digital natives?
    - The sheer numbers of baby boomers gave them a loud voice and a huge footprint, but now a new generation is cutting its way through, this time in cyberspace, and many older leaders are not even aware of it. Soon unprepared leaders may find themselves left high and dry with a voice that few are listening to...
  2. What did stories tell us about Enron and the Subprime credit crunch before they tanked? Learn to spot patterns that can lead to a collapse, and enduring principles on how to create a sustainable organization.
    - History has shown us that most people only behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives. As a new economic era begins, many people are looking back at what went wrong and trying to identify what led to the latest financial meltdown. But did we not see it coming?  
  3. What stories do customers & staff tell? How does that impact organization culture?  How to drive sustainable change through consistent values and vision
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    The future of business will be all about establishing and maintaining a proactive organisational culture that can support positive transition. Through this session groups learn to identify patterns and from these define enduring principles for creating a sustainable organization and avoid breakdown and collapse - before it’s too late. By identifying the stories people tell and analysing these, leaders and teams gain an understanding of significant experiences and issues that may need to be acknowledged and managed.

Case studies include the Four Seasons Hotel, Enron, Singapore Airlines, the American Idol franchise, Lonely Planet, Coke & Pepsi

Through the deliberate use of narrative, the power to shape the organisation’s culture is then also introduced. The session ultimately aims to empower organisational vision and mission, to increase morale, create more opportunities for buy in, and establish positive principles and actions for moving forward collaboratively.   

Outcomes

  • Attitude: Recognizing the need for an organisational narrative
  • Approach: Practical strategies for developing stories
  • Action: Case studies on companies that get it right

This is another original and unique program exclusively designed and presented by Tirian.