Category Archives: authenticity

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Truth versus authenticity in organizational storytelling

authenticity, John's reflections, leadership Leave a comment

Writing about Hewlett-Packard these past weeks, I was reminded of research I did on corporate stories of identity when I was a doctoral student in England. One of my most interesting findings at that time had to do with the role of truth and that of authenticity in organizational storytelling.  Here is the distinction I have come to make: In companies with strong cultures and institutional narratives that support them, authenticity is far more important than truth. For definitional purposes, I call a story “authentic” if it is representative of the organization’s values, and consistent with the behavior of the individuals portrayed. It is true if the facts are correct, if … Continue reading

Who is the real Steve Jobs, and what are his lessons for us?

authenticity, leadership, Leadership in the news Leave a comment

As I begin to write this, I realize full well that one week ago I sketched out a plan and said that I might actually try to stick to it. At the same time, I did call it a “tentative” schedule for the coming weeks, even half-mocking my suggestion that I could actually stay on such a predefined course for very long.   As such, and as luck would have it, something completely outside of the anticipated structure has crossed my path and obliged me to write about it this week. The current issue of Fast Company has an image of Steve Jobs on its cover, with the inscription: “Kind. Patient. Human. The Steve you didn’t know.” This … Continue reading

Leadership moments in the events of everyday life

authenticity, leadership, Leadership in the news, Leadership training, Storytelling Leave a comment

In my teaching and coaching for the past two decades, I have often emphasized the concept that leadership begins with a willingness to stand for what one believes. And, leadership is not only about the “big” moments we study in history classes and in business schools. In fact, we all have opportunities to take a stand about the things that matter to us in the course of everyday events. Leadership begins with self-knowledge. Effective leaders influence their worlds by being in close touch with their most important values and convictions. What is important enough to me that I will be willing to speak out for what I believe? Each of … Continue reading

The recent Swiss immigration referendum as a study in storytelling

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Though discussion of political issues has often left me cold and bored in recent times, I watched the latest debate about immigration in Switzerland with considerable interest. As a foreigner and property owner living in this country, it is a matter that could potentially have a direct impact on me and some of the people close to me. Beyond my personal situation, though, I found this incident to be a fascinating case study in storytelling. As I often tell my audiences, I am somewhat dismayed by the uses of storytelling I see in modern politics. Far too often, the narratives crafted by candidates and public officials, aided by their consultants … Continue reading

Creating a group culture

authenticity, John's events, John's reflections, leadership, Leadership training, Leading by autobiography 1 Comment

This week, I am teaching a two day seminar to MBA students in Grenoble. As I am working far less in business schools now than in previous years, coming here got me thinking again about how I like to run my classroom and interact with students. Almost exactly one year ago, the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD.org) invited me to speak at their 2013 MBA conference, on the subject of “creating positive group dynamics” in an MBA classroom. At that time, one of the first words that came to my mind was culture. In all the varied situations where I work, be it in business, in teaching or elsewhere, I always try … Continue reading

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