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Narrative, drama and charismatic leadership: The case of Apple's Steve Jobs

Abz Sharma and David Grant Leadership 2011 7: 3 DOI: 10.1177/1742715010386777 The online version of this article can be found at: http://lea.sagepub.com/content/7/1/3

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Narrative, drama and charismatic leadership: The case of Apple’s Steve Jobs

Abz Sharma

The University of Sydney, Australia

Leadership 7(1) 3–26 ! The Author(s) 2011 Reprints and permissions: sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/1742715010386777 lea.sagepub.com

David Grant

The University of Sydney, Australia

Abstract This article argues that a leader’s narrative and storytelling skills play a critical role in constructing their charismatic identity. In line with Goffman’s (1959) observations, we argue that these skills are effected through ‘stage management’: a segregation between back and front ‘performing regions’ that serves to minimise potential incursions, leaks, disruptions and faux pas that may undermine the leader’s performance. Further, we suggest that Burke’s (1966) observations in relation to the importance of scene setting offer important insights into the impact of leader storytelling and narrative on followers. We revise and extend Gardner and Avolio’s (1998) dramaturgical model of the charismatic relationship in order to reflect these observations, and go on to apply this model to an analysis of three public...