Leadership, Influence & Communication: The Power of Story
Your ability to lead others is directly tied to your ability to influence them.
One of the tools you can use to more powerfully influence others is the use of story in your interactions.
Stories can magnify a point or grab an audiences attention during a presentation. They can be seamlessly woven into a conversation so that others experience what is being said instead of just hearing the words.
Unfortunately, stories can also used in an incredibly negative way.
When someone shares a story, but leaves out key facts or information to shade the truth, it is an attempt to control others. This happens 24/7 in the media, and sadly it happens with some leaders as well.
Leaders who attempt to control believe that by applying force they will get their needs met. However, when you apply force to anything, especially people, you get push back … it is unavoidable.
Why? Because Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion describes exactly what happens when a leader applies force to their team. It states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
In other words, the more control you exert, the greater the push-back will be in return, whether it is displayed outwardly and immediately or inwardly and eventually.
3 Things That Happen When Leaders Apply Force:
- Out-right defiance or disagreement (aggressive) – People visibly push back and refuse to buy-in. This creates silos and an antagonistic or fearful environment.
- Sabotage or false agreement (passive-aggressive) – Employees give the appearance they agree but they do not. It may show up as missed deadlines, mistakes, forgetfulness, or absenteeism.
- Hidden disengagement (passive) – Folks just disengage mentally and emotionally. Complacency, low morale, and low productivity are just a few of the many outward signs of this form of push-back.
When you choose to be a leader, you commit to influencing others to do or to be their best! It means that you take 100% accountability and ownership to speak the truth, and more importantly … how your words and stories impact your people.
Just because you have a direct style doesn’t mean you can bludgeon others with your words or use them like a weapon to get what you want! When you do that, you are just being an arrogant ass.
You can use stories to influence others in a way that leaves a lasting impression or you can take the shortcuts and simply tell them what to do and how to do it. Sure it takes more forethought and planning to use stories in your interactions, but the results can be incredibly powerful.
Everyday you have the opportunity to influence others in a positive or negative way … it is a choice.
Remember, the cumulative effect of the stories you tell is creating the script for the story people will tell about you as a leader … and the stories others tell about you creates your legacy.