Are you inspiring others to action with your captivating stories that delight your audience?
Or you guilty of just providing a leadership yawn-fest?
Your One Best Tool For Inspiring Others
I was at a board meeting the other day where an outside organization was presenting its latest project. The vision was in creating a sustainable vision for the future of the region. The idea provided the perfect opportunity to enroll people in their grand vision! All they needed was the perfect vision pitch from an inspiring leader.
But what a big “yawner” this presentation turned out to be. What a lost opportunity!
So what was the problem? It wasn’t for lack of commitment, enthusiasm, or interest. It wasn’t because a young inexperienced executive was before us. In fact, the presenter had a lifetime of success under his belt. It wasn’t even an experience of death by PowerPoint.
It was simply because the presentation was dry as a mouthful of sand. In addition, it was without a compelling story to engage people. The result? Nice project. No inspiration. No enrollment in taking action.
Being able to tell a compelling story is an essential leadership skill that bears paying attention to, no matter how experienced or successful you are.
As Howard Gardner says, “Stories are the single most powerful weapon in a leader’s arsenal.”
Just imagine how many missed opportunities that this successful executive has created over his career because he wasn’t sharing stories, much less in ways that inspire others to action.
Brain research (Story Proof, Influencer) has shown time and again how sharing stories immediately engages people and their imaginations. It is the most efficient method for transmitting knowledge, and is a powerful tool for enrolling others moving them to action.
Every leader who is able to link their own personal stories into specific initiatives will score big on the engagement meter. Why?
Because they are viewed as authentic — one of the core qualities of an effective leader.
Over one thousand studies during the last fifty years have attempted to define successful leadership styles or qualities. Yet none of this research has produced a clear profile of an ideal leader. That’s because leadership has many voices and the key to being a successful leader lies in your ability to be you – authentic, passionate, and disciplined.
Leaders are defined by their unique life stories. They are defined by how those stories illuminate their passions and leadership purpose, and by the way they frame those stories for others. Every leader, whether young or old, has inspiring stories to tell. Most however, don’t recognized the power in their own stories, much less know how to tell them in ways without sounding arrogant or self-serving.
By being willing to explore, reframe and tell their life stories, leaders set free their passions and the ability to inspire others.
Training is required though. Just because we can speak doesn’t mean that we don’t need to go to Toastmasters. Even though we can all tell a story at some level, that doesn’t mean we don’t need to identify our stories and learn to tell them in ways that inspire others.
What stories do you need to tell? There can be many. And every leader needs to master a set of core stories to get started. These stories are:
- About the founding of your organization and the challenges it is addressing
- People and results stories – About customers/clients and the results they’ve experienced, along with stories about people within your organization and the difference they have made
- Recovery stories – Those about mistakes that have been made, and the recovery / lessons learned from those experiences
- The story about the future you are creating – Why should we invest in you? How will the future be different through our engagement together?
- The My Commitment story – That story of what gets you up in the morning, what inspires and moves you, why you are doing the work you are.
Successful leadership takes deliberate development and necessitates being true to your stories. You are never too old or too young to share your stories and lead authentically.
Don’t wait. Don’t miss the incredible opportunities waiting for you when you become a proficient story teller. It’s all low-hanging fruit. Spending time on developing your stories now will allow you to leverage them for years to come.
So, how many yawn-fests have you suffered through in your career? How many time have you seen wonderful ideas fail due to a lack of polish on the communicator’s story line? Have you ever been guilty of leaving your audience or team members flat because you could not engage them in personal stories that inspired them? Come on… tell the truth! I’d love to hear your STORIES!
Karen Dietz is a Principal at Polaris Associates Consulting, Inc.
She helps clients tell their most inspiring stories as an essential influence skill
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Blog | Skype: karen.dietz
Image Source: grassshackroad.com
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