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Governor General acknowledges Business School's commitment to storytelling as a leadership skill

16 Dec 2013

The University of Sydney Business School's commitment to storytelling as an effective leadership skill has been acknowledged by Australia's Governor General, Quentin Bryce, during her 2013 Boyer Lecture on the struggle by women against abuse and inequality.

During the lecture broadcast on ABC Radio, the Governor General specifically referred to the Business School's Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) program which was this year ranked as the nation's leading course of its type by the Australian Financial Review's BOSS Magazine. 

Detailing violence and discrimination against women globally, Mrs Bryce said that women who have testified to their own abuse have discovered that stories can dramatically shift attitudes and international conversations.

Linking the fight against inequality to storytelling in leadership, Mrs Bryce said that United States President Barack Obama's personal narrative "suggested a template for reconciliation of conflict through conversation". 

The Governor General reinforced the importance of storytelling as a leadership skill by telling her audience of the priority given to it in the University of Sydney Business School Global Executive MBA program.

"The University of Sydney's Global Executive MBA teaches storytelling as part of its leadership training," Mrs Bryce said.

Commenting on the GEMBA and its storytelling element, the Business School's Associate Dean Management Education, Professor Richard Hall, said that "storytelling provided leaders with a way of communicating vision and purpose".
"Stories are able to inspire people not only with facts but with emotion," Professor Hall said.

"Importantly, our GEMBA program also emphasises the need to give voice to others," he added. "Effective leaders need to be able to listen to others in their organisation."

During her Boyer Lecture, Mrs Bryce also talked of personal narratives, storytelling, conversation and discourse as "powerful pragmatic acts of leadership".

While admitting that the mechanisms of storytelling are not perfect, Mrs Bryce told her audience that stories were "our best hope of building a more inclusive and responsible citizenship".  

"Story telling is in all of us," she said. "It's the natural human response to the experience of living and witnessing. It's how we talk to one another. It's how we feel like we belong to something bigger and wiser than ourselves. The act of telling assuages fear and begins healing."

Looking to the future, the Governor General said that the necessity remains for grassroots movements, parliamentarian and corporate and community leaders to address the inequality between men and women and the suffering, denigration and lost opportunity it entrenches. 

Over the past four years, the Business School's Global Executive MBA program has set the standard in leadership education in Australia by delivering the technical, critical thinking, communications and relationship building skills needed to succeed in a dynamic and ever changing corporate environment.