Catching up on my reading I recently came across a pair of Fortune articles on the vital importance of storytelling for leaders. Management often relies on directing, telling, and bossing – even if politely saying “please.” Leadership seeks to influence thinking and behaviors.
We’ve all found ourselves resisting someone else, not because of what they are saying, but how they are saying it. They may strike us as arrogant, unfeeling, rude, or overly critical. Most of the friction in our relationships comes from the wrong tone of voice. Less effective bosses or managers use position power and get people to do things because they have to. Leaders get people to do the same things because people want to. It’s the same goal, but with a world of difference in execution and long-term results.
Since humans first gathered with their tribe around a fire, we’ve deeply craved stories to entertain, instruct, warn, reinforce, or influence. Books, movies, news media, music, social networks, family gatherings, and coffee chats, serve up a wide variety of stories. In today’s workplaces people want less data and information dumps – “headspeak” – and more imagery, metaphors, and stories – “heartspeak.”
Appropriately, Storytelling Lessons from Company Frontlines, uses a few stories to illustrate leadership lessons on stories having a purpose, creating pride and hope, and building trust. How Storytelling Spurs Success has a few more leadership stories and is especially helpful with practical points on selling your story and what to avoid.