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Dynamic interaction of story, teller and listeners

leadership, Speaking, Storytelling Leave a comment

As I wrote in the last post, it was my coaching of others that caused me to discover how powerful the interaction between story, teller, and listeners can be. Of course, I had done doctoral study and written a dissertation, focusing specifically on the link between storytelling and leadership. Nonetheless, it was using the concepts from my research in my client coaching that truly brought home to me how much this dynamic of interaction—between leader, narrative and followers—can be a vehicle for inspiration of groups, and for stimulating change.   When individuals speak from the heart about issues that truly matter to them, they tend to make deep connections with their audiences. Then, when they … Continue reading

Reflections on storytelling and self-image

leadership, Speaking, Storytelling Leave a comment

In the last post, I made reference to one of the core concepts of both my consulting work and my teaching, regarding the connection between storytelling and self-image. In fact, much evidence supports the view that our sense of identity is framed by the stories we tell, and come to believe, about ourselves.  My own research has shown that many people of influence understand and use the power of narrative when reaching out to their constituents. Often, the most effective leaders are individuals who express themselves and inspire those around them with their personal stories of identity. In many instances, they draw abundant energy and motivation from the authentic personal stories they share with others.   In … Continue reading

Stories create leaders as much as leaders create stories

leadership, Speaking, Storytelling Leave a comment

If one studies the great leaders of history, one often observes a synergistic relationship between leader and story. As we have seen before on this blog, people of influence express themselves and inspire others with their personal stories of identity. These stories are in fact constructions; we build our self-image based on the stories we come to believe and tell about ourselves. In most instances, a leader’s stories begin small, and leader and story grow together. As individuals begin to feel that they can influence their worlds, they tend to craft personal stories of possibility, stories that can push them in new directions, and to greater heights. During my doctoral study, I found striking … Continue reading

The stories we shape will also shape us

John's reflections, leadership, Speaking, Storytelling Leave a comment

This week, one of my favorite reflections about storytelling—from the recently departed British novelist Terry Pratchett (1948-2015)—came to mind: “People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it’s the other way around.”  While I find Pratchett’s words extremely interesting and thought-provoking, I cannot say that I agree with them completely. Whenever I am asked if we shape our stories, or if our stories shape us, I respond that I see it as a phenomenon that happens in both directions. More than “we shape our stories” or “our stories shape us”, I find that there is a synergy, even a symbiosis, between the stories and the teller. In the best cases, each one helps the … Continue reading

Our tightly scripted modern political discourse

Speaking Leave a comment

This week, I had planned to write something more about Martin Luther King, a reflection on how he progressed as a leader by learning to speak from the heart around a few core themes. Rather than using a teleprompter or reading from a paper, his best moments—instances of true personal growth and impact on his audiences—came when he deviated from “the script” and let his thoughts run free.  However, I then received further information that showed to what extent how presidential candidates and public officials have become so tightly controlled and scripted in what they say these days. The incident that a friend pointed out to me—and the related videos I subsequently found—involve two former Republican … Continue reading

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