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Recommended Readings: Leadership and Managerial Effectiveness


Telling Tales  by Stephen Denning | Harvard Business Review, May 2004

 A story can be a powerful way to inspire and encourage people into action. Unlike data and analysis which appeal to the mind, narratives appeal to the heart. Stories are particularly effective motivational tools while operating in unfamiliar territory. A good story must have characters, a plot, turning points and a lesson learned. Some of the situations where stories can be used with great effect are : Sparking action, Introducing yourself , Transmitting values, Fostering collaboration, Taming the grapevine, Sharing knowledge and Leading people into the future. Different stories are appropriate in different situations. For example, if the objective is to spark action, we could use a story that describes how a successful change was implemented in the past. But we should   allow listeners to imagine how it might work in their situation. We must avoid excessive detail that will take the audience's mind off its own challenge. If we are using a story to introduce ourselves, we must use a story that  provides an engaging drama. We must reveal some strength or vulnerability from our past. We must include meaningful details but make sure the audience has the time and inclination to hear the story. The response from the audience  should be: "I didn't know that about him!