The Power of a Leader’s Story
What your association does involves more than numbers
Somebody asks you in an elevator or at a party what your association does. Quick, what do you say?
You might lead with a variation on your mission statement: We promote our industry to create a healthier/safer world, etc. Or you might lead with some numbers: We support 50,000 industry workers, deliver X amount of credentials annually, and so on. That is all true and admirable, but likely nothing that will keep the conversation going after the elevator doors open, or keep someone from bouncing to the next table round.
Leaders may be so fixated on mission and metrics that they neglect where their passion for their association comes from: The stories about how people's lives are improved through an association's work. "Most organizations do not tell stories with a beginning, middle and end, with conflict and resolution, or with characters and settings," nonprofit consultant Annie Neimand recently wrote in an essay at the Stanford Social Innovation Review. That dearth of storytelling hurts charitable nonprofits looking for support, she asserted. "I'd add that the storytelling element is just as crucial for an association that's actively recruiting staffers, attendees, members and foundation or PAC donors."
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