Story Telling

A leader is not a leader if he does not have followers. Communications is the prime activity of great leaders. He maintains leadership by communicating, nurturing and developing but more importantly move the followers to the common aim.

Since early childhood, I have been encouraged to tell stories and communicate. I am much amused to see my grandchild Jake who is presently with us on holiday telling creative stories. I am encouraging him. Let us hope that he could turn into a great communicator and leader.

Story telling is one of the ways; here are some thoughts by Stephen Denning

Why Story?

The right story can energize, inspire, and connect with people’s personal values and goals.

  • When Lou Gerstner, then CEO of IBM, had to persuade skeptics that IBM could become a major player in providing e-business services, he did it in part by telling stories about IBM’s future in web-based services.
  • To explain why his firm passes on savings to customers, James Sinegal, CEO of Costco, tells a story about acquiring four million pairs of Calvin Klein jeans and selling them for $22.99 when they had sold fast at $29.99. “It was tempting to make a quick $28 million in profits, but that’s how we keep faith with the customer.”
  • When Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, was asked about his best leadership attribute, he said knew how to tell stories.

Telling the right story at the right time is an essential leadership competence to get business results.

Knowing the Right Story

A transformational leader has to know what kind of story to tackle which business challenge. Different business challenges require different narratives.

  • To communicate complex ideas and motivate others to action, a leader needs a springboard story—one that can get an audience to launch into action. This story needs to embody the change idea, be true, be told in a minimalist fashion, and be positive in tone.
  • Stories that transmit knowledge and understanding tend to be negative in tone. They are about problems. They are told with context, or explanation.
  • Communicating who you are and so building trust in you as an authentic leader involves a story that focuses on a turning point in your life. It has a positive tone and is told with context.
  • Transmitting values are carried by stories that are like parables, revealing a conflict between two values.
  • Generating high-performance teams is suited to narratives that move people to see what they have in common.
  • Although conventional management techniques can’t deal with the rumor mill, narrative stories can neutralize rumors by satirizing them.
  • Future stories can help organizations to move forward and grasp opportunities in an integrated fashion. Such stories tend to be short and evocative.

Each leadership challenge requires a story with a different narrative pattern. Mastering the relevant narrative pattern for the leadership challenge at hand thus becomes a critical competence for transformational leaders.

Transformational leaders not only tell the story—they embody the story. The power of narrative rests on a foundation of personal integrity and authenticity. Storytelling can reveal who you are and connect you with other people, but its effectiveness depends on whether what you reveal resonates with listeners.

Great leaders engage with followers and create a connection that inspires people to raise their sights and elevates their values and goals, essentially by communicating through narrative.

So, dear blog reader, I do encourage you to join a Toastmasters cub to hone your communications and leadership skills.


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