The Art of Using Storytelling in Leadership
Once Upon a Time, In a Place Far Away. . .
The title of this article is an invitation to a person to suspend their reality for a few moments and let a storyteller entertain them. It invites the listener to engage their imagination to conjure mental images to go along with the spoken words. A good storyteller has a theme, often of good overcoming evil or the weak conquering the strong. There is a moral lesson to be learned from the protagonists’ struggles. A good story causes emotional responses on the part of the listener—interest, suspense, fear, relief, and happiness. Children’s stories are filled with these plays on emotions. Innocent children may be captured by a wicked witch, their lives in imminent danger, and the suspense builds, but through their imaginations and quick thinking, they can overcome the scary witch and escape, happily leaving the witch in a position to no longer threaten or harm other children.
How many meetings have you been in where the leader strives to impart information, maybe important information, with a recitation of facts, figures, and rationally desired outcomes? The employees appear to be listening, but their eyes have dulled over, and the information is only being partly received, tuned out as they think about what they need to pick up at the grocery store on their way home for dinner.
An effective leader will engage the employee audience using storytelling techniques. They will engage them emotionally, using stories to keep their attention while making points. The audience will develop a mental vision to accompany the story being told, and that will reinforce remembering the key message long after the meeting has ended. In a workplace presentation, there won’t be time for a full-blown story hitting on various emotions, but the basic idea is still there. The presenter will still use a story but a truncated one to fit the short time available. In that short story, there will still be the opportunity to create interest in the story’s outcome, perhaps evoking empathy for a character in the story that the listener can relate to. Then the presenter brings in the relationship of the storyline to the work-related message that is the point of the presentation.
I will share the essence of a real story in my own life that I use in my book, So You Want To Be A Leader, Secrets of A Lifetime Of Success, that I use to make a point regarding recognizing your employees’ strengths and weaknesses to help them succeed, not have you be an obstacle to their success.
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So, You Want to Be a Leader: Secrets of a Lifetime of Success is now available in paperback and e-book editions.
William F. Merck has a lifetime of experiences in the working world that contributed to his success in a variety of leadership roles.
BREADCRUMBS: Finding a Philosophy of Life
In this work, slated for publication in March 2023, the author uses stories from his life’s journey to illustrate points in time that helped form his view of the world and his place in it.
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So, You Want to Be a LEADER
Being a leader is not easy for anyone. Thankfully, this book transforms more than a half-century of leadership experiences into a practical handbook for those looking to excel in leadership roles. In candid fashion, So, You Want to Be a Leader: Secrets of a Lifetime of Success, reveals what works—along with an unvarnished examination of what doesn’t—in a myriad of work-related situations.
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Dive into a thought-provoking discussion that explores not just the definition, but the subtle ways ageism infiltrates our everyday lives and particularly, our workplaces.
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BREADCRUMBS: Finding a Philosophy of Life
In Bill’s new book released on March 14, 2023, the author uses stories from his life’s journey to illustrate points in time that helped form his view of the world and his place in it. From growing up in Southern Georgia in the 1940s, to becoming a military officer and a corporate leader, he discovers a nexus between early feelings and subsequent notions and beliefs.
Bill talks about overcoming ageism in the workplace, embracing change, and building your adaptability.
Bill and Kris discuss the pros and cons of having overconfidence or lack of confidence in yourself in this in-depth discussion on leadership and philosophy.