To be a Social Leader is to understand the power of stories, to be an authentic storyteller. Not just stories of consensus and agreement, not just easy stories, shared within our trusted tribe, about known subjects. But rather to understand how stories of difference and dissent work: to know how power drives stories into opposition and cultures towards failure. To be a Social Leader is to understand those things, and to have a bravery, and humility, to cut across them. To listen to stories with which we differ, to uncover stories from the weak or oppressed, to gather stories from the edgelands of the Organisation. To learn to read the cultural graffiti.
The Landscape of Stories is wide: some parts we will recognise, and understand, others will be strange and hostile. In the ‘Storytelling in Social Leadership’ certification, which runs for twelve weeks, we explore this landscape. Not to find the answers that others have written, but rather to find answers for ourselves.
The certification takes two to three hours per week, and consists of three elements: firstly, we explore FOUNDATIONS, to understand how stories work, the underlying power, the ways the amplify or counter each other, and how we can learn to build socially empowered stories. Secondly, we learn, and rehearse, TECHNIQUES, practical ways to tackle things such as ‘Diagonal Storytelling’, or ‘Stories of Difference’. The focus of these is on story gathering, and sharing, across boundaries, in support of building a more interconnected Organisation.
Finally, each individual runs an EXPERIMENT: they identify part of their own Organisational ecosystem that they want to explore further, propose a hypothesis, work with the community to design the study, and figure out how to measure it, and then run the experiment. We make sense of the results, together, and then publish them, as a final story. The final report will take another five hours or so, and makes each delegate eligible for a digital badge.
At the end of the certification programme, you earn a badge that comes in two parts: the first part is formally assessed, based upon attendance, and successful completion of the Experiment. The second part is socially assessed, by your community itself, based upon your engagement, support, challenge, and willingness to help others build their social capital, and tell their own stories. You can graduate with either, or both.
The Storytelling Certification is a new venture: this is prototype work. It’s a complex subject, and i am bringing my latest research, and thinking, into this programme. But it’s not for the faint hearted.
Within known spaces, communities of consensus, and among friends, it’s easy to hear the stories that we want to hear, and to tell the stories that we know will land easily.
But to be a Social Leader is to hear stories with which we disagree, and to help others to shape and tell them. It’s to engage across our differences, into communities of dissent, and to help us find commonality, if not agreement. It’s a dangerous skill to have in a complex landscape of stories, but that is the role of the Social Leader: to help find momentum, where none exists. To find fairness, and a voice for everyone. To ensure that nobody is left behind.
To find out more about the Storytelling certification, you can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org