As someone who is passionate about both art and psychology, the current exhibition at MoMA, featuring Francis Picabia’s work, immediately appealed to me.

Francis Picabia was an audacious soul whose work disrupted the art world and forced people to see the world differently. Today, digital rather than artistic disruption is a buzzword in common, corporate conversations.

Challenging demographics, changing technologies and the importance of culture to employee engagement are just a few of the forces accelerating the need for leaders to think differently. The so-called ‘war on talent’ conjures up a pugilistic approach to leadership. However in any war or revolution, the greatest weapon is the stories leaders tell their people. This has been the tool of choice for generations. Great leaders have always recognized its power to win battles more effectively than any other weapon.

While stories are not new in changing people’s minds, the neuroscience behind how we can construct compelling narratives gives leaders new insight into how to change the minds of individuals and the direction of an organization.

Narratives can be thought of as strategic plans on steroids. Their unique power cuts through the preconceptions that are obstacles to change. Narratives address the whole brain; they don’t just address thoughts and actions. They define our sense of self, enable us to empathize with others, and change the cognitions that drive behavior and decision-making. A good story will replay and repay itself, shaping behavior and filtering the behaviors and perceptions that influence others.

Leaders need to realize that digital disruption compresses the timeline. Narratives are a mental shortcut that allow them to create a vision that engages people and makes clear both what they need to do to be successful and how it should be done.

Leaders who don’t change how they think will simply become square pegs in round holes, not round heads with a new direction.

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