Effective Leaders Are Story Doers, Not Just Story Tellers

Mountain Climber

We all learn from stories, we get to practice our emotional responses and we can test our beliefs in safe territory.

“A leader is someone who demonstrates what’s possible.” ~ Mark Yarnell

Describing Your Purpose

Your story will be a narrative that describes your purpose in a way that is easily understood, is intriguing, inspiring and ultimately is sufficiently engaging to capture the imagination of your target audience.

It also will get them to spend, support or evangelise you. Without a coherent and inspiring story your organisation will have an uphill battle to influence and gain market share.

“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.” ~ Robert McKee

Knowing Your Audience

You have two audiences:

  • One is your workforce
  • The other is the people outside your organisation

For both groups the story is fundamental but insufficient on its own to ensure success in a competitive world. Not only must the story be told it must be seen to be lived by you and your organisation.

The Art of The Story

Alexander Mackenzie a world’s expert describes how storytelling lies at the heart of leadership. Leaders of highly successful modern organisations tell stories that:

  1. Are simple, truthful, unambiguous and based on sound ethics and core values
  2. Describe how you intend to make your workers lives, the world or society better
  3. Can be understood and cared about by anyone
  4. Are consistent aligned with workforce and clients
  5. Drive practical action underpinning a culture of wellbeing
  6. Motivate listener engagement with the story and action because of it.
  7. Underpin marketing strategies exemplifying these core values
  8. Use a full range of modern social networking platforms
  9. Create compelling and meaningful experiences

Being The Story

An authentic ”story doing” leader will claim in the company’s mission, “Triple XXX Inc is committed to developing its workforce”. They will tell this to clients and governments etc. but they will also tell the same story pro bono at high schools helping young people to understand why this principle is so crucial to business.

It’s that age old adage about “walking the talk”. If you claim to have “committed customer service,” have members of senior management shadow delivery drivers or man the telephones.

Our society is becoming more and more sceptical. Leaders who authentically embody their organisation’s story will drive success.

Do your story and not just tell it?

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” ~ John Quincy Adams

For a great introduction to leadership and storytelling check out Lisa Bloom’s site Your Actions Today

  • Take stock of the channels you use to tell your personal and organisational story.
  • How many are you supporting with an action?
  • Look at the missions of your competitors and look how they might be story doing
  • Select one element of your story and design up to three simple actions that bring it alive – then test them.

Recommended reading The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling: Mastering the Art and Discipline of Business Narrative – Stephen Denning

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–  

Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Blog | Web

Image Sources: cfile29.uf.tistory.com

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2 Responses

  1. I like this concept. It’s materializing the conversation one has with themselves as they pace a room, or take a walk, while strategizing, problem solving or worrying and putting that into a story of what they want, think and aspire to. It keeps it real and human. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hi Kelly, thanks for your observation. In my mind there is little point conceptualising an issue unless you can find simple ways to make it real in our daily lives. The seminar of our lives is the most informative and meaningful and we be more curious about it and pay more attention. Sometimes though we need someone else to suggest a good question to get us started.

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