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Why Leaders Tell Stories


“I realize the importance of having a story today is what really separates companies. People don’t just wear our shoes, they tell our story.”

Blake Mycoskie – CEO, Tom’s Shoes

Last week, I was privileged to be surrounded by several of the smartest and brightest minds in the global SQL Server community – Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals, certified trainers, consultants, community influencers, book authors. And when you’re with a group of highly intellectual individuals, one might think that the meaningful conversations will mostly revolve around their primary skillset, in this case, the SQL Server platform. Here are a few things that I have taken away from most of the conversations:

  • Theater arts is a great opportunity to express yourself
  • One can be in Canada for 20 years and still not be a Canadian citizen
  • We all have issues dealing with our health insurance policies
  • Growing an organization requires focusing on the important and saying “NO” to those that aren’t
  • You can tell your daughter that it’s OK to be a forensics expert
  • Filipinos genuinely care about others – not just in the Bay Area but everywhere they are
  • New year’s resolutions can include 1024 X 768
  • Smiling in a service oriented business really does generate profit
  • Technology gadgets – iPad, iPhone, XBox, tablets, etc. – are therapeutic

If you look at the list above, there isn’t anything in there that’s specific to SQL Server (although we did discuss a lot about the technology.)  They are, however, stories that matter to the us. In corporate environments where “companyspeak” jargon float around quarterly meetings and PowerPoint slides, most leaders forget about one of the most important tool that they can use to connect with their staff and influence them into action: storytelling.  When we were kids, we valued the importance of “tell me a story” whether be it inside the classroom or before bedtime, something that we took for granted as we became adults.  However, stories form a connection between the communicator and the listener.  It also gives the communicator and opportunity to be authentic to the listener, showing the human side of the individual.

A compelling message is one that touches both the hearts and the minds of people. So, whether you’re delivering a message about a radical organizational change, a technical presentation or simply teaching a lesson, try storytelling. Let me know how it worked for you. Post your comments here.

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