Managing people? Be poetic! Tell stories!!

Business? Ah.. sounds like something that make sense!

Managing business? Well, it is something we can use our logic for.

People? Ummm…it is something different. It is not really something logical, but also emotional….

Managing people? Hahaha…now it sounds completely emotional to me!

Wait the minute…where is the ‘logic’ part? Why it ends with ‘completely emotional’?

Let me tell you why. Managing business is mainly managing a process of changing resources into something we call as valuable output. It is basically manage a process to create something that sells. Either it is a service or product. This process is based on logic that win we add some value to something that has value, we will gain an accumulation of those values, and sometimes the accumulation can be far bigger than the some of the original values.

Managing people is a bit different…..and in some situation can even be further away in the line of differences…..

As much as we as human like to claim ourselves as logical being, the Homo sapiens, I don’t think we are really behaving along that line. People put values in meaning, or association of meaning. Something that is associated or perceived as the best thing to make their dream fulfilled, or at least felt like so, is valuable. Thus, what is so precious now can be meaningless later. What is great for me yesterday, might be nothing for you, before tomorrow I may be bored already and you start to have interest on it. Often times, once we got what we want, we no longer want it anymore. Expectation of the reward is the key, not the reward itself; and that makes people not easy to manage. It is more about how we feel about it, and not how much of it.


Managing people is not really  a process governed by logic. Indeed some people will insist so, but the more we try to rely on logic to manage people, the more confusing and stressful it becomes. Managing people needs logic, but it only works if we are poetic.

Read all the fancy books about managing people, finish them, and most of us will forget them afterward. Because most of those advanced logic books (or digital file) offer you only information, but not feeling of experience. It is the real stories of people managing other people, that give you the understanding and lead you to experience. Why? Because stories give us the feeling about people’s experiences and situations.

It is easier to learn from the poetic life story of Steve Jobs, and not reading a management text about his style of  management, isn’t it? Will people prefer to read Sun Zi’s warfare poetic romance, or the hardcore strategy books he wrote? Which one is easier to make people understand about leadership morality, a guide to be a good manager? Or a story of ‘tragic villain’ where a good person becomes evil as he couldn’t bear the burden of power invested to him?

Logic writings tell us about managing people, poetic stories inspire us on how to actually do it.

All in all, I’ve seen that the best way to elaborate people management is through poetic storytelling. Managing people is more about compiling stories, actually. It is also about engaging different stories with one another. It is always about one’s glory and other’s tragedy, one’s history and other’s peril, or one’s selfishness and other’s sacrifice. It is not about perfect logic, but a fine balance. And therefore, just like all stories, imperfection will always needed!

And, for each of us, it is about writing our own poetic story and tell it to others, and perhaps make other people change their stories. While this mostly known as leadership and management, perhaps it is easier to see it as performing an act telling our poetic own story.


6 thoughts on “Managing people? Be poetic! Tell stories!!

    1. Yes, that’s it! Many people think that storytelling is not scientific or intellectual in contrast to presentation, speech, lectures or seminar or other ‘academic’ style.
      The fact is that storytelling is often times more effective to create inflence than those fancy stuffs 🙂

  1. Human have two logical factors which influencing their live.
    1. Mind logical referring to intelligence
    2. Heart logical referring to psychology

    Related to Managing people, a good leader must fulfill their mind with intelligence (seminar, presentation, etc) and their heart with something that influencing their psychology (poem or telling stories) and drive them with organization policies. Transparency and trust are determinant keys. The best Practice is fully engage with them. Remember that managing people related to work culture. The goal of my description above is develop good and smart people in organization. So far I’ve been successfully to do it with this method. Do you have recommendation to refining my method?

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