published on 17/07/2015 by Patrick Mayfield

Many leaders focus on the future, on the what might be, on the vision. And rightly so. Leaders are at their best when they give hope to those that follow them, and vision is very much about giving them that hope in a better future.

But there is a less emphasized area of good leadership that does the exact opposite. Leaders sometimes get us to focus on the past, where we have come from. The main value in this is to connect us with our heritage, our corporate identity, and the values that were there when we began. Who are we as an organisation needs to be a part of our mission, our intent, our reason for being, as well as perhaps being a part of that visionary future.

In more so-called primitive societies, elders would share around the campfire the stories of how the tribe came to be a distinct tribe. These stories give everyone both a sense of identity, continuity and of hope in themselves. These stores often gave everyone valuable insights into what they need not learn again the hard way. They can also illustrate core values as they were being fashioned, again something very much part of core identity.

My friend, Mike Hill, who happens to also be the Bishop of Bristol, calls this the “creation narrative”, where our leaders (the elders) tell the story of how we came to be. In these stories are the vital nuggets of what made us distinctive, why we broke with convention and started something new. There are implicit messages that there are some things we should never neglect or surrender.

As an example, here is my company’s creation narrative. Enjoy, “like” if you will, and let me know what you think.

Email Patrick here.

about the author

Leading with History: the Creation Narrative
Patrick Mayfield

Patrick was the private sector contribution to the original design and developing of PRINCE2(c) launched in 1996. He went on to form pearcemayfield n 2001. He was one of the authors of the acclaimed 2007 edition of Managing Successful Programmes, authoring chapters on Principles, Vision, Benefits Realization, Business Case, Leadership and Stakeholder Engagement.