Five Types of Stories Leaders Need to Tell
Practice strong business communication
The historian Doris Kearns Goodwin was once asked what questions she would put to Abraham Lincoln if given the chance. "I feel like a bad historian," she answered, "but I'd probably ask him to tell me a story." As she herself has documented, the 16th U.S. president was not just a great political leader but also a masterful raconteur, who used stories to entertain, educate and inspire.
Storytelling is an important leadership skill. As psychologists Gordon Bower and Michal Clark of Stanford first observed in 1969, we are seven times more likely to remember a fact when it's wrapped in story. Telling stories can also help with all five of the effective leadership practices that Santa Clara University professors James Kouzes and Barry Posner lay out in their book The Leadership Challenge: 1) model the way, 2) inspire a shared vision, 3) challenge the process, 4) enable others to act and 5) encourage the heart. But it's important to learn which types of stories lead to which outcomes. Here's a primer.
As noted in The Moth book, How to Tell a Story, "When you choose to share your story, you share a piece of yourself." In so doing, you start to build trust and connect in new ways with your listeners. Trust stories humanize you as a leader and allow you to encourage the heart of your team.
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