Telling the story, The heart and soul of successful leadership
By Ana Brant, director of global guest experience & innovation, Dorchester Collection
As the famous film director George Lucas once said, “great stories happen to those who can tell them” – and this second title from Geoff Mead wholeheartedly concurs.
In Telling the Story, the author’s definition of a story as “an imagined experience narrated with enough detail and feeling to cause your listener’s imagination to experience it as real” is what, in essence, every inspirational leader I’ve come across has in common – they are excellent storytellers. They lead by telling a story with a compelling plot to which their people return day-after-day in order to discover what’s next.
This book inspired me to believe that if we can transform business strategy into great stories, where the plot thickens as we get closer and closer to the desired results, we would be able to connect both the hearts and minds of our people. The strategy would reveal both the character of the organization and its intellect at the same time, helping us achieve great effectiveness.
Mead introduces very practical tools and techniques on how to develop storytelling skills. In one great example, he challenges the reader to tell a story about his or her shoes. Shoes are seen as a commodity – however, the story that lies behind our decision to pick certain pairs of shoes becomes, as the author says, “the secret reservoir of values”. A remarkably simple concept that few consider and can be applied to many a story.
This is a unique book with excellent and unexplored and unexploited topics. I would certainly recommend to every leader who aspires to leave a legacy, although I’d suggest readers gain greater knowledge of authentic leadership and self-awareness prior to reading it.
The person we spend the most of our time with, yet know the least about, is ourself. And, as the author explains, the root of good storytelling lies in “knowing telling”. This is something that cannot be achieved overnight. Unlike leadership, storytelling is not a science, it is an art.