STORY-TELLING is an integral part of human existence. Since ancient times, people have been telling stories and many of these are parables - tales with a moral message - that provide insights into various aspects of human existence.

Story-telling, with its potential for allegory and metaphor, is also an excellent way to get across sensitive and moral messages.

With the advent of our fast-paced technologically driven society, it is sometimes easy to forget the ethical and moral dimensions of our existence.

In recent years, there have been a number of high-profile cases highlighting the unethical behaviour of senior executives of large corporations. Such practices have far-reaching consequences and not only affect the organisation itself, but also its stakeholders.

Howard Gardner, educational theorist and author of the impactful book, Multiple Intelligence, once said that "it is important that leaders be good story-tellers, but equally crucial that the leader embodies that story in his or her life".

It is therefore of paramount importance that a leader of a corporation develop the ability to communicate with his staff at all levels. He should have a broad base of general knowledge that will allow him to impart motivational and inspirational messages that will serve as a "corporate vitamin" to boost teamwork and organisational productivity.

Read widely

One of the most effective ways to develop these qualities is to read very widely. There are many books that offer insights on a number of issues - from becoming highly effective, staying motivated and developing better customer relationships to improving communication and becoming a great leader.

Many of these books are written by the best minds who have used the principles that they espouse to further their own careers and personal lives and are sharing these with the world.

Some of these well-known authors are Stephen R Covey, Brian Tracy, Anthony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, Daniel Goleman, Dale Carnegie, Zig Ziglar and Norman Vincent Peale.

The books by these authors are not the only ones that can help you draw useful insights in the fine art of leadership, motivation, personal development and success.

There are other great literary works that you should attempt to read, as these will give creative insights to fine-tuning your leadership and management skills.

Literary works come in different genres such as narrative fiction, drama and poetry. Through literary devices such as allegory and metaphor, the reader finds a richer meaning that is still relevant in today's business environment.

I would like to recommend 12 books for you to read. In following weekly segments, I will give brief overviews of these books and the insights that can be drawn from them that are still pertinent to the running of the modern business organisation.

The 12 books are:

* Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach (1970)

* The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (1988)

* Winnie the Pooh by A.A Milne (1926)

* Candide by Voltaire (1759)

* The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1943)

* Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (1915)

* The Prophet by Kalil Gibran (1923)

* Tales of Greek Heroes by Roger Lancelyn Green (1958)

* The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (1951)

* Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (1900)

* Moby Dick by Herman Melville (1851)

* Mutiny on Board the HMS Bounty by William Bligh (1790)

Even if you have time to read only a few pages a day, reading any one of these classic works will give you deep insights about life and humanity.

As 19th-century American writer and social activist Theodore Parker once said: "The books that help you the most are those which make you think the most."

So go ahead and pick a book. Stay with it and soon you will notice how your mind opens up to many possibilities.