Topic: Corporate Culture
Author(s), Title and Publication
Jarnagin, C., & Slocum Jr., J. W. (2007). Creating Corporate Cultures Through Mythopoeic Leadership. Organizational Dynamics, 36(3), 288-302.
This essay introduced the concept of Mythopoeic Leadership as a framework for leaders to develop a robust corporate culture that drives employees to consistently make heroic efforts. Culture has a greater impact on a company’s success than anything else management can do. Employees who embrace their company’s culture are more committed to their company and are less likely to leave it. Mythopoeic leaders (MLs) develop corporate culture based on myths (e.g., stories of other employees’ accomplishments). It is grounded in the work of Joseph Campbell, a cultural anthropologist, whose studies demonstrated that people experience community by sharing mythological archetypes or rituals. Within organizations, myths provide a mentoring function by giving employees inspiration and direction.
An ML forms the organizational culture by developing the organization’s mythology, which is reflected in the mission statements and values of the organization. A Mythopoeic Mission (MM) is written to illustrate how the organization benefits the mankind, and is reinforced by honoring excellent employees with rites and awards. MLs have several personal qualities. They are passionate about the heroic mission and values of their organizations, not just making money. They have the rhetorical skills to tell stories illustrating their organizations’ mission and values. Also, they are empathic, inspiring, comforting, and pure in purpose. This article used Toyota Motors and the Mayo Clinic to explain the implementation of mythopoeic leadership.
Implications for Practice
The essay describes many ways in which leaders can use ML approaches to strengthen performance. Leaders can: 1) help employees believe that they have an opportunity to make a difference and provide a benefit to others; 2) define the values that reinforce the organization’s (MM) and business plan; 3) share stories grounded in the organization’s MM and Values and create their organization’s mythology; 4) create a living book that records the stories employees tell; 5) create rituals that reinforce the organization’s MM and Values); 6) select new hires who fit into the organization’s MM and Values, and enroll them in some training programs to educate them about the organizational culture, traditions, and history; and 7) connect to employees on a personal level. These ideas underscore the importance of stories and narratives in building culture..
Location of Article
The article is available online at: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1004565 (full article, click “download this paper”)