Pondering the Seven Deadly Narratives of Leadership

Third Conversation in the Thrive or Survive Series

NewScoop YYC is excited to partner with The Flourishing Congregations Institute, Ambrose University to host online conversations.  The next conversation is at 12:00 pm on February 5 on the topic of leadership. We hope you can join us! Register here.

There are outside themes and inside themes that constantly play out in the lives of both leaders and followers.  For example, on the outside sphere of our lives, and especially in last few years, we have all become aware of the themes of false news, disinformation, yellow journalism, fabricated facts, manipulated content, doctored images, imposer content, and fake framing for a cluster of notions that have defined and provoked our attentions and dominated our conversations.   Who would have thought these would be so influential and so characterize our everyday discourse?

Social media have carried this maligned content with unprecedented efficiency (speed, reach and saturation); so much so that the tail seems to be wagging the dog.  All this is going on in our external worlds; outside us and mostly beyond our control.  Recently, we have experienced the acceleration of suspicious storying and the repositioning of truth; concurrently, our times have been characterized by VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) (see Harvard Business Review article, January/February 2014).  All of this is upsetting or at least unsettling us.  This is one of many outside-ourselves themes that has influenced leaders and their followers.

In contrast, on the inside of us, as persons, there has been a parallel dynamic or civil war that has pit truthfulness against the fallacious.  Virtuous thinking has quietly struggling or explicitly called upon to fight against vicious thinking.  This session of New Scoop is focused not on the external world of fake news but on the interior world of false narratives: the lies or distortions that leaders believe that don’t help.

For centuries there have been those who have talked about the propensities and predispositions of leaders (and their followers) to operate on false, biased, or distorted internal stories.  There are subtle, and even unconscious, harmful or hindering narratives or scripts that get written onto the hearts of both leaders and followers.  These can and do govern leaders’ thoughts, interactions, actions and choice making.  Unwittingly, these deadly narratives have become quite common platforms of belief and behaviour for leaders.

How does this all work?   Historically, these dangerous narratives have been described as the “seven deadly sins.”  Toxic and bad leadership has been seen as the result of the accumulation of embodied and enacted deadly narratives.

This session introduces five basic propositions for our conversation:

  1. Leaders are important when it comes to promoting human flourishing. The all round well-being of leaders is important for the well-being of their constituents/followers;
  2. In large part, leaders operate, interact and choose based on inner scripts (conscious and unconscious);
  3. Some scripts, accumulated stories or narratives provide healthy, true, right, good, and virtuous platforms for the exercise of ethical, effective and efficacious leading and choice making; however, some do not.
  4. There are at least seven broad categories of false, deadly or destructive narratives carried by leaders (their followers also can be complicit in these as well):
    1. Narrative of constant comparison (envy);
    2. Narrative of self-gratification (lust);
    3. Narrative of indifference (sloth);
    4. Narrative of anger;
    5. Narrative of intemperance (gluttony);
    6. Narrative of arrogance (pride); and
    7. Narrative of greed.
  5. Leaders and followers are well advised to spend 90% of their efforts and attentions on positive attitudes, virtues and actions (Philippians 4:8) BUT to be sure to reserve some energy for reflection, scrutiny and examination of their root narratives, so that these seven deadly narratives are named, minimized, neutralized and displaced (Ps 139.23; 2 Chronicles 7:14; 1 Peter 5:5; Proverbs 28:13).

We hope to hear what NewScoop participants think about these propositions and the extent to which their experiences and expertise might critique, expand, frame, story and refocus these.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.