The latest insights on narrative, storytelling and leadership in higher education.

Category: Author: Paul Gentle

Sunlight through leaves

Chasing the unicorn – restoring elusive conversations

Meetings, emails, packed agendas: our days at work are full, yet so much of what we do in these spaces relies on our ability to connect – negotiate, empathise, deliberate – with others. In this maelstrom of daily office life, where are we making room for building genuine human connections, through simple things like conversations, with the people we work…

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A million voices, telling the story of your university

Within and beyond our university walls there are thousands of stories. These are the foundations of our individual and collective narratives. They are the key to help us understand how to connect better with each other, and ourselves. What are the stories being told at your institution? Here is a small selection we’ve heard over the last two years. Stories…

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How to connect beliefs and values with writing a strategy

Strategy isn’t just facts, figures and mission statements. It encompasses the breadth and depth of the people who lead and live it. Drawing on two fictional universities facing real-life challenges, Paul Gentle examines how working with the grain can connect your strategy to the beliefs and values that people live by. How do you know when you’re working with the…

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Influence...and how you do it

Influence…and how you do it

Nurturing influencing skills are like playing a musical instrument: the more you fine tune, the better you get. Paul Gentle offers his insights on recognising the scary stuff, reading the room, and how to use questions to influence for solutions. Every time I’ve asked people in a group I’m working with to think about an influencing challenge they face, I’m…

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Language at the top

No need for translation: language at the top

Language, and how we use it, has the potential to create a divided world of ‘us’ and ‘them’. But it can also build bridges. It should be part of every leader’s toolkit to build a foundation of expectations and behaviours. So how comfortable are leaders at modelling the possibilities of using language in this way? And what does this look…

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A narrative guide in the wilderness

A Narrative Guide in the Wilderness

As leaders, we need to be guides in the wilderness. We need to help find secure footing whilst navigating unknown territory. To do this, we need to tap into narrative to connect people to purpose and challenge reluctance to change, says Paul Gentle. Narratives can enable and empower us to navigate the ideas that structure our thinking, and the emotions…

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The joys and pitfalls of being all-knowing

To seem all-knowing can be an irritating quality. Yet when it signals a trustful working relationship, it’s quite the opposite of a problem. Paul Gentle argues that in helping others to know us better, we kindle the appetite and mindfulness to understand and empathise with colleagues. This builds confidence and trust between one another. In programmes we run about defining…

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2018 in review: six words that shaped the year for Higher Education

How would you describe 2018? Drawn from meetings, programmes, conferences and the latest sector news, here’s what’s been talked about in the last 12 months. Narrative One overarching narrative is sorely needed. It’s a narrative that connects the value and societal impact of universities with how they are perceived by our communities and the wider public. Over the past year…

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It’s a Mentor-full world!

The benefits of mentoring are widely accepted. Gifting your experience and expertise to another can be both professionally rewarding and personally satisfying. But is there more to it than that? Paul Gentle explores the powerful synergy that can evolve from this relationship and shares his personal story of what happened when he mentored a more junior colleague. Right now, it…

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