Why Narrative and Identity Development is Important

Since we’ve launched our new site, a number of visitors have asked “Why is narrative and identity development important?”

Narrative and identity development is an emerging and growing method through which organizations invite individuals to (1) address the core issues—which rest at the heart of living an engaged and rewarding life—of meaning and significance, and (2) create a personal narrative, the wellspring to improve self-confidence, clarify values, focus goals, and form an inspired and realistic vision of the future.

While this approach may seemingly fall outside the scope of “professional development,” it actually goes right to its core.

As participants experience the process, they catch sight of the range of their skills and talents, and come to see how who they want to be can be fulfilled by taking up roles, responsibilities, and relationship in ways that support and deepen a sense of personal identity. The development provides a means for participants to define, articulate, contextualize, and integrate their passions and aspirations in terms of work and the roles and responsibilities they take up at work. They come to see how work is meaningful, congruent, and integral to the notion of self.

This is a game changer because it ties work to self in ways that are often overlooked. A common result: leadership becomes a way of living, a way of artfully responding to the day-to-day, the minute-by-minute.

The integrative and application focus which narrative and identity development provides, helps participants reclaim, renew, or enhance motivation and energy, which in turn gives rise to commitment, engagement, participation, and the inspiration to bring out the best in themselves and others. And the narrative component provides a contextual basis often absent from or overlooked by many strength-based or appreciative perspectives.

Because narrative and identity development heads directly to the heart of how someone understands who she/he is and provides an empowering global context from which to respond to the challenges and satisfaction work provides, the process directly supports and complements other internal development efforts by acting as a keystone for job-specific skill building, behavior modeling, and technical training…. Importantly, narrative and identity development is concrete, process driven, and results oriented.

In short, narrative and identity development helps people to “switch on” in an honest and genuine manner. Why? Because they more closely meld the meaning and significance derived from work with the overall meaning and significance of their lives.

Note: As for application, flavors of the process support women’s leadership development, mixed-gender leadership development, professional development and executive coaching, as well as preparation for a role transition.

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