Lead Yourself and Others with Stories
"To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart." — Eleanor Roosevelt
What’s your story?
No, not once upon a time.
What’s your story of who you are, where you’ve been, and where you’re going?
Your stories package and share your experience.
Stories help you stand out among the crowd, and rise above the noise, if you share the right things.
What are the right things?
Share your unique experiences, your values, and your strengths … and even relevant flaws.
You are human, after all, and everybody has flaws.
Leaders Author a Distinctive Story
It’s not what happens to you, but how you respond.
You are the author of your life.
Choose your adventures. Write your stories with might. Lead yourself first and use your stories to guide yourself and others. It’s not about happy endings. Life’s about learning and responding.
Happy endings are a byproduct of making the most out of what you’ve got, standing strong when tested, and enjoying the journey along the way.
In the book, Emotional Capitalists: The Ultimate Guide to Developing Emotional Intelligence for Leaders, Martyn Newman writes about authoring distinctive stories.
Key Take Aways
Here are my key take aways:
- Stories improve effectiveness. Stories are the most powerful tool. Leaders achieve effectiveness through the stories they tell.
- Write and live your stories. Stories should light up possibilities. Stories should inspire. They should help connect people from where they are to where they want to be.
- Stories should feel real. Leaders must live their stories. Leaders must embody stories. Stories have identity.
Stories are a Leader’s Most Powerful Tool
Stories have identity. They give leaders a lot of power to inspire, influence, and connect.
“Harvard leadership guru, Howard Gardner, also believes that leaders achieve their effectiveness mainly through the stories they tell. In addition to communicating stories, however, Gardner believes that leaders must embody those stories: ‘Stories have identity. [They are] narratives that help people think about and feel who they are, where they come from, and where they are headed. [They] constitute the … single most powerful weapon in the leader’s arsenal.’”
3 Questions to Ask About Your Distinctive Story
Newman asks a set of questions to help you test your story:
- Do you possess sufficient self-reliance to author a distinctive story — or at least a chapter — in the life of your organization or business unit?
- Does the story engage people and provide them with a relevant and potent dream?
- Can you do this for your customers and, more importantly, can you then empower them to realize those dreams by buying into the vision, product or service that you are responsible for providing?
What’s your story?
Inspire yourself. Inspire the world.
Lead yourself from the inside out.
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Photo by Olivander.