Gardner wrote in Changing Minds that to “capture the attention of a disparate population: create a compelling story, embodying that story in one’s own life, and presenting the story in many different formats so that it can eventually topple the counterstories in one’s culture.” 1 Stories can, and do, shape culture in positive and negative ways. They help shape processes such as orienting new employees; they can serve as symbols that reinforce norms such as cubicles for employees and suites for executives; or they can create organizational heroes and heroines such as employee stories of leaders that go the extra mile.
Storytelling is an excellent way for leaders to garner staff involvement, bring new clients to an organization, or paint a vision of an organization’s future. In its essence, storytelling is about how you communicate your vision, your goal, or your objective to listeners—in other words, storytelling can help you get your point across. Telling different stories can initiate different actions from story listeners, eliciting stories that speak to their behaviors and their experiences.
The impact of storytelling in organizations has become increasingly important because stories are memorable, no matter how poorly or well told they are. Emerging research studies show that storytelling has a tremendous affect on an organization’s capacity to grow and manage change. Organizations in transition that use elements of storytelling demonstrated improvements in team performance and in overall project management. Although the research literature on storytelling is limited, the importance of storytelling is being noted on an international level. Stories, like Gardner expressed, are powerful tools, and when the right story is told, leaders can take the proper action needed for intercultural work.