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Beauty and Danger: When Leaders Should Not Tell Stories

Jo Tyler,

Originally posted on May 07, 2013

Creativity Culture

Jo Tyler, Associate Professor of Training and Development at Penn State, is an educator, storyteller, organizational consultant, and mosaic artist. When she discovered there were no jobs for high school English teachers in 1982, she got an MS in Technical Writing and went to work for Hewlett-Packard. She learned how an organization can look, feel, and smell when it's functioning well. For the next 20 years she worked in organizations that were NOT functioning well, helping them claim or reclaim that look, feel, and smell. She moved up in companies like Otis Elevator and Armstrong until she reached the level of vice president where politics are rich and trust is poor. She realized that her truest allies were stories. Moving through the world listening to them, connecting them, and telling them, she fell in love with stories.
Jo knew that stories were the foundation for her success, but she didn't know how or why. So, she went to Columbia University to research applied storytelling in organizations. At Penn State she has expanded this exploration to deepen our understanding of the dynamics of stories, telling, and listening in organizations of all sorts. She has also begun to study how visual arts pair with storytelling to foster learning and create novelty. She is deeply interested in the ways we can foster spaces where authentic stories can emerge, where the telling of stories is fearless, and where the listening is expansive. This is the type of work Jo hopes to pursue until her time runs out.
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