Category Archives: leadership

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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

How Martin Luther King prepared himself to improvise

leadership, Speaking Leave a comment

Recently, as I was reading through some notes I took about Martin Luther King during my doctoral study, I was reminded that much of his prowess as an orator was crafted in moments of creative spontaneity. Dr King was indeed a master of finding inspiration in the moment, often reacting to an audience with fervor and enthusiasm, altering his words and his voice to fit the situation.  At the same time, it would be a mistake to underestimate the role of preparation and deliberate practice in Dr King’s success. He forged himself as a leader and speaker through a dynamic combination of preparation and improvisation. In fact, it was his many hours of mindful … Continue reading

How Leaders Use Personal Stories to Make a Tangible Difference

leadership, Storytelling 1 Comment

The forthcoming book that I referred to in the last post—about how individuals use their personal stories of identity to influence those around them—opens with an example from the career of Barak Obama, a tale that demonstrates how telling his personal stories propelled him to prominence on the US political stage.  My co-author and I thought long and hard about whether or not we should use such a powerful world leader as our initial vignette. On the one hand, we want to emphasize that this is not a book about politicians, or even about people who lead from positions of authority. Our goal was always to write a book for everyone who wants to … Continue reading

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Page 2 of 29123...Last »