How powerful is a story for a leader?


Today is November 11th, which is a day known by different names ( Veterans Day, Remembrance Day, Poppy Day, Armistice Day, etc.) depending on where you are from as a day to remember all those in the armed forces who fought for our freedom. Thank you all for your service.

Picture yourself getting together with a bunch of friends or family.  At some point, you will probably hear a story or two about a recent event that happened to someone you know. Imagine being able to talk to people from the past and hear the stories that they had about their service in the many wars that took place.  Stories are used as a way to share information about our families and historical events in previous generations.   It is a great way to learn information and it makes it easy to remember a lot of facts and concepts.

Where else do you see stories being used?  Stories are used pretty effectively to influence us to buy products, change our beliefs and try new things.   There are stories everywhere in the mediums that you connect with every day such as  Books, TV shows, Commercials, Movies, Songs, Social Media, etc.   People love to hear stories and they will generally remember them and repeat them to others.

How can leaders use stories most effectively?

Stories are a great way to start out a presentation and get everyone’s attention.

Stories can be a tool that leaders can leverage as part of their communication to stakeholders, peers, and direct reports.

Storytelling is a great way to explain the concept of a confusing or complicated subject.

Using a story to build affinity with others when you are trying to have others relate to you more and build relationships

To influence stakeholders and gain alignment for something you need to be approved

To address issues or concerns from a client’s point of view in a positive way.  Helps them to see how it benefitted someone else in their situation.

Leo Widrich wrote an article about The Science of Story-Telling  where he quoted Uri Hasson from Princeton, who said: “a story is the only way to activate parts in the brain so that a listener turns the story into their own idea and experience.”  Keep your stories simple, uncomplicated and focused on the outcomes that you want and the emotions that you want the intended audience to feel.

How will you leverage the use of story-telling in your own leadership?   Feel free to share your ideas and comments.

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