There is increasing recognition that leadership is not married to a title, and that personal guidance within organisations can be, and usually is, provided by anyone, regardless of their status or level of authority. Given everyone’s capability to tell stories, and that stories are the most influential form of communication, it is worthwhile that everyone in an organisation’s leadership capacity is enhanced b developing their storytelling skills. In this article Peter Christie provides a summary of the four distinct story types outlined in the typology he uses in developing leaders, which you are encouraged to use as a leader in your day-to-day organisational life.
by Peter Christie
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Peter Christie, better know as Big Chief Talking Bull, is a consultant and the author of many books, most recently Not the Bored Room - Storytelling in Organisations. He can be reached at email@example.com or call on 011-883-7399.
In my recent book, Every Leader a Storyteller, published by Knowledge Resources, I set out a typology whereby any and everyone in organisations can invoke storytelling to increase their leadership effectiveness. Applying this framework can help you to develop the storytelling skills required for influencing the thoughts, feelings, actions and purposes of the people with whom you interact.
A ‘storytelling for personal leadership’ typology The conceptual framework adopted in Every Leader a Storyteller is a simple taxonomy or classification of story types originally set out in my 1996 book, Stories from an Afman!, published by Knowledge Resources. While naïve and simplistic, the model has deep roots, being strongly informed by:
The primitive, prehistoric and original conception of the earth’s archetypal elemental physical forces − earth, air, fire and water;
The mythical conception of the four archetypal human elements of body, mind, heart and soul;
The early psychological personality theory of the Greek medicine man Hippocrates, and his view of personality being archetypically more phlegmatic, choleric, melancholic or sanguine;
The four-fold conception of the human being advanced by the inspirational Austrian philosopher and visionary Rudolf Steiner, the Anthroposophist, with archetypal physical, etheric, astral and ego dimensions;
More latterly yet consistently, the analytic psychology of Carl Jung, and his personality archetypes of sensing, thinking, intuiting and feeling;
The primary functions of the four archetypal quartiles of the human brain – the western and eastern lobes, more commonly known as the left and right hemispheres, the northern cerebral cortex and the southern limbic system; and
Most concretely, Ronnie Lessem’s global so-named businessphere of international management, in particular his four-fold philosophical archetypes of western pragmatism, northern rationalism, eastern holism and southern humanism.
The typology of organisational stories, which can be applied to all forms of corporate storytelling to achieve a variety of purposes, is consistent with the seven archetypal influences listed above. The classification differentiates between four different story archetypes, all of which manifest to a lesser or greater degree as the written or spoken word in companies, but which have different styles and structures, and embody different elements of an organisation’s identity. This simple taxonomy is set out in Figure 1 below.
Figure 1: A storytelling in organisation's typology