At the beginning of leadership, we’ve had autocracy. That is someone telling others what to do and seeing them execute that.
When democracy appeared, the need to persuade others came along. Sometimes it meant to persuade a few people, but in general, it meant to have the means to provide a rational explanation as to how to proceed. Thus, when democracy appeared in Athens, philosophers set out to help people grasp the logic of the situation and formulate it in such a way that others would agree.
Over the centuries, these rational or logical means to persuade others shifted to something more emotional. We call this storytelling. The story is there to describe a sound way to do things and to share it in such a way that it resonates deeply with people.
With more and more people becoming audible and sharing their ideas, storytelling shifted in an effort to address the different streams. The stories tend to highlight pleasure more than challenges. When telling stories, there now is also a component present to please and reassure the audience.
From ancient times to today, how the stories are being told has changed. What remained the same, is that leaders seek followership.
In principle, it doesn’t matter which of the above paths a leader chooses. What matters, is that it is adapted to the situation and that the leader follows a goal that is there to serve the group he is leading. On this journey he has to accept, that following this goal might, at times, not be pleasant. Neither for him nor his followers.
However, once the stories a leader is telling serve the purpose to allow him to stay in place, he has lost track of what serving his group is about.
The way we tell a story is important. It is there to invite people to follow.
However, what is relevant, is the purpose of the story. It’s there to lead towards a goal that serves the group.
Telling the story isn’t for the leader to be followed, it is there to enable a leader to serve the group.