Leadership In 2 Sentences

I used to think leadership was all about inspiring others with great storytelling. I now know that leadership is about inspiring others to create their own story. Do you know the story of the people who work around you? Where did they start, where are they on their journey and what’s the happy ending in their mind? What are the obstacles getting in their way, how do your paths connect and what can you do to help them on their journey are all great questions you should know the answers to about the people you lead.

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We tell stories in organisations all the time.

Inspiring a team that is facing a challenge, outlining the vision for the future or explaining why someone should support your project are all good examples of story telling. It’s a key skill and there are many great articles and thoughts on why leaders need to be storytellers and I wholeheartedly agree with them. Here’s why.

People respond to stories.

Everyone reacts to great stories. Stories are the way we have passed down information and good advice from generation to generation and the best stories have stood the test of time. It’s how we learn.

People connect to stories.

The best stories evolve and stand the test of time because the people telling them build their experience and insight into the story. In doing so they build a connection and communicate in ways that just simply passing information along can’t achieve. Stories get people thinking about their own experiences and meaning and they give the listener unspoken insight into the motivations of the storyteller.

So here are my thoughts on leadership in just two sentences.

I used to think leadership was all about inspiring others with great storytelling. I now know that leadership is about inspiring others to create their own story.

The so what?

I challenge you to think about inspiring your people to create their own story. Do you know the story of the people who work around you? Where did they start, where are they on their journey and what’s the happy ending in their mind? What are the obstacles getting in their way, how do your paths connect and what can you do to help them on their journey are all great questions you should know the answers to about the people you lead.

Here’s the really interesting (and hugley satisfying) thing:

Take this approach and you’ll find that in time you’ll build relationships with your people that go beyond job descriptions, job titles and org structures. You’ll become part of their story and they’ll happily tell people about the part you played. If you are really lucky you may even become one of the heroes of their story as you see them grow and many of them will still keep in touch when you have both moved on.

Now here’s the really cool thing.

People respond to stories. People connect to stories. People pass on stories. It’s how we learn. I hope as you reading this you reflect on the people in your career who have been part of your story. I also hope it inspires just one of you to go out there and inspire others to create their own story.

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