Skip to content

Module Twelve – Storytelling

Storytelling: A New Leadership Competency

The roots of storytelling are inextricably linked with our humanity. Each of us longs both for self-expression, and to hear and witness to the stories of others. Without orchestrating anything, gatherings of people drift naturally to the exchange of stories in one form or another. Stories are unavoidable. They are powerful. And they are in us. Story colors everything.

Leaders of current and emerging generations are tuned in to different ideas than our colleagues from even a decade earlier, with good reason. Those seeking to achieve social impact, sustainability and innovation through their leadership know that the fuel for these endeavors comes from people.

If stories are part of our DNA as human beings, the next generation of leaders must be able to be trusted stewards of our stories. She must listen deeply, with courage to the stories within herself. He must build places of trust and respect so fragile stories can find footing. We must learn to listen well, safeguarding the stories that come into our midst, and weave them together in ways that have not yet been imagined.

Stories build relationships.
Stories deepen connection.
Stories bring humanity forward unapologetically, into daily life.
Stories accelerate trust.

Join us as we practice being stewards of the stories within ourselves and among each other.

Paul Lynch

A purveyor of stories that shape our world, an advocate for change, and a lover of nature is one way to sum him up. Another way is to talk about the vision of Cage Free Productions, which is rooted in the vision of award-winning Producer, Director, and holistic development strategist Paul j Lynch. Paul’s dedication to creating lasting change in the world was powerfully realized through his expertise and skill in socially active film making. Paul established Cage Free Productions (CFP) in 2006 after years of frontline experience and research collected while working on development projects and producing and directing documentaries in some of the most intense “hot spots” in the world .

Through his passion, journeys, and expertise in visual communications and strategic development, Paul developed a unique perspective and approach that bridges the gap between ethical companies, donors, affected communities, implementing partners, and the global and international systems that hold the promise for building a better future, if their interconnected works are strategically developed and communicated.

He has been featured as a source on BBC Radio, Wall Street Journal, and various domestic and international news sources. He has worked in South Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar, Botswana, Liberia, Ghana, Chad, India, Sri LankaIsraelOccupied Palestine, Thailand, Vietnam, Brazil, Rwanda, Haiti, Morocco, and the United States.

Founder & CEO of Cage Free Productions, a certified Benefit Corporation that creatively releases media, Paul consults foundations, corporations, and non-profits while building The Vision of the Movement to support social justice, human rights, and sustainability. The work of CFP is engaged in projects both locally and globally to address the challenges of the 21st Century.


  1. What is effective storytelling?
  2. What is the purpose of storytelling?
  3. What aspects of storytelling are overdone or less effective?  What are most impactful?


Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.  (TEDglobal2009)


Watch the TED talk and consider:

  1. How are you inviting multiple stories around critical stories within your workplace?
  2. What voices are missing at the decision-making table in your organization?
  3. What aspect of your own story do you wish others knew?

Class Discussion

There is no class discussion this month.

Upcoming Events & Key Dates

January 14, 8:30-10:30AM – Storytelling
 Museum of Contemporary Art of Santa Barbara (MCASB)

February 11, 3:00-5:00 PM – Tribes and Networks
Santa Barbara Foundation

  • February meeting to be followed by (optional) Fellows Happy Hour at Armada 1129A State Street

March 17, 8:30-10:30AM –When Boards Make a Difference
Location TBD

April 14, 3:00PM -5:00pm – Convening
Santa Barbara Foundation

  • April meeting to be followed by (optional) Mentor/Fellow Happy Hour at Armada 1129A State Street

May 12, 12:00-5:00PM – Retreat (****NOTE – FIVE HOUR SESSION***)
Location TBD

June 16, 3:00-5:00PM – Project Team Presentations
Santa Barbara Foundation

  • Fellows team presentations to be followed by Launch Event & 20th Anniversary Celebration (details tbd) at SB Foundation House (300 East Islay Street) – tentative timing 5:30-7:30 p.m.


Sometimes the notes are ferocious,
skirmishes against the author
raging along the borders of every page
in tiny black script.
If I could just get my hands on you,
Kierkegaard, or Conor Cruise O’Brien,
they seem to say,
I would bolt the door and beat some logic into your head.

Other comments are more offhand, dismissive –
‘Nonsense.’ ‘Please! ‘ ‘HA! ! ‘ –
that kind of thing.
I remember once looking up from my reading,
my thumb as a bookmark,
trying to imagine what the person must look like
why wrote ‘Don’t be a ninny’
alongside a paragraph in The Life of Emily Dickinson.

Students are more modest
needing to leave only their splayed footprints
along the shore of the page.
One scrawls ‘Metaphor’ next to a stanza of Eliot’s.
Another notes the presence of ‘Irony’
fifty times outside the paragraphs of A Modest Proposal.

Or they are fans who cheer from the empty bleachers,
Hands cupped around their mouths.
‘Absolutely,’ they shout
to Duns Scotus and James Baldwin.
‘Yes.’ ‘Bull’s-eye.’ ‘My man! ‘
Check marks, asterisks, and exclamation points
rain down along the sidelines.

And if you have managed to graduate from college
without ever having written ‘Man vs. Nature’
in a margin, perhaps now
is the time to take one step forward.

We have all seized the white perimeter as our own
and reached for a pen if only to show
we did not just laze in an armchair turning pages;
we pressed a thought into the wayside,
planted an impression along the verge.

Even Irish monks in their cold scriptoria
jotted along the borders of the Gospels
brief asides about the pains of copying,
a bird signing near their window,
or the sunlight that illuminated their page-
anonymous men catching a ride into the future
on a vessel more lasting than themselves.

And you have not read Joshua Reynolds,
they say, until you have read him
enwreathed with Blake’s furious scribbling.

Yet the one I think of most often,
the one that dangles from me like a locket,
was written in the copy of Catcher in the Rye
I borrowed from the local library
one slow, hot summer.
I was just beginning high school then,
reading books on a davenport in my parents’ living room,
and I cannot tell you
how vastly my loneliness was deepened,
how poignant and amplified the world before me seemed,
when I found on one page

A few greasy looking smears
and next to them, written in soft pencil-
by a beautiful girl, I could tell,
whom I would never meet-
‘Pardon the egg salad stains, but I’m in love.’

– Billy Collins

Back To Top