More Magic of Metaphor: stories for leaders, influencers and motivators

21st January 2005 at 00:00
More Magic of Metaphor: stories for leaders, influencers and motivators

By Nick Owen

Crown House Publishing pound;18.99

Teachers tell motivational stories all the time - in assembly, usually - to make points and teach values. They should, then, welcome a book that's entirely concerned with the idea of motivational storytelling and with the substance -the stories themselves. There are 60 of them, illustrating a long list of leadership themes.

The stories often have an ancient-world feel: "A warship from the Athenian navy was lost at sea, far from land..." (Why was it lost? Because it had been run as an Athenian democracy, with long meetings about every decision. In the end they all died for want of expert assertiveness.) Yes, it's a good story, adapted from Plato. A secondary head would use it, and most of the others, in assembly. Whether school leaders will also tell them - as is the intention - for professional motivation and development, is something else. It's difficult to imagine a head of department, for example, starting a meeting with the words: "Hrethic the warrior, commander of the Saxon armies, sat on a roughly sawn stool in the centre of his war tent."

Maybe it's because, for teachers, storytelling smacks too much of assembly and thus of being patronised or talked down to. It's a matter of distance, too. A school leader is close to the team (often, it's almost like a family relationship); using metaphor presupposes a certain distance between the teller and the listener.

Still, the stories are good, and the links to the leadership principles well made, and that makes it a good read.

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