- What is the importance of storytelling and why are old stories and myths relevant to the world of organizations?
Stories are narratives that people, in and out of organizations, tell each other to communicate their experiences, entertain, influence or warn others. A great deal of storytelling takes place in organizations and we can learn a lot from it. In stories, the requirement for accuracy is subordinated to the need to offer a gripping narrative that stimulates emotions and keeps the attention of the audience.
Ancient myths address powerful themes of power, legitimacy, hubris, love, disappointment, and above all, the discontinuity between human intentions and the outcomes of human actions. These are the same issues that we encounter in every organization today.
2. Does an understanding of storytelling and stories help the management of organizations?
Understanding how to learn from organizations stories can help, by:
- offering better communication and understanding of organizational objectives
- offering examples for imitation and avoidance
- allowing the generation of positive emotions, like hope, enthusiasm and commitment
- allowing the containment of negative emotions, like anxiety, anger and fear
- allowing the leaders to understand the concerns of followers
- enabling followers to understand, share and influence the visions of leaders
3. How can and how do today’s leaders use stories?
Some leaders make regular use of storytelling in communicating with their followers. In general, some leaders make more effective use of stories than others. Effective stories are fairly simple, they have a clear message but do not appear to be ‘manufactured’ to manipulate their audiences. They are spontaneous and sincere. The leader does not use them to boast in an evident way about his own achievements.
Good leaders also learn from listening carefully to stories; instead of responding angrily to a story by saying ‘It is not true’ they ask themselves why some people want to believe such stories to be true.
4. All in all, why is storytelling relevant to our highly advanced technological society?
Most organizations today are drowning in information overload, which stops people from effectively managing knowledge. In contrast to information, storytelling cuts straight to the quick, addresses directly the problems and concerns of organizational members in their daily reality and enables them to learn from each other’s experiences. Sharing a story is a more powerful way of sharing knowledge than offering large sets of statistics, complicated theories or formalistic graphs.