The Corporate Storyteller
Expert tips on management communications and the power of storytelling
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Nike CEO Mark Parker recently defended the company's latest ad featuring Tiger Woods listening to the voice of his deceased father. Parker said it's the "most polarizing" ad that Nike has run in a long time, and he explained that "what's really at the root of a lot of what we do is the connection and commitment we have to the athlete."
I commend Nike's commitment, but my question is, Didn't Tiger break the agreement with behavior unbefitting a sports hero--especially one of his elevated status--whom youngsters around the world look up to and want to emulate?
What do you think? Is Nike's commitment justified? Does Tiger's behavior tarnish any brand he represents and warrant a change in the company-spokesman relationship? Does the company's stance alter your view of the Nike story?
Friday, April 23, 2010
Leaders Who Focus on Strengths Cause Employee Engagement to Skyrocket
When leaders focus on individual employees' strengths, commitment to the organization soars, says Tom Rath in his new book, Strengths Based Leadership. When a leader doesn't focus on strengths, but only talks about where improvements are needed, employee engagement is as low as 9%, he reports. But when the focus is on employees' strenghts, engagement soars to as high 73%--an eightfold increase!
This is no surprise to those of us who promote the "gospel" of story-based communication focused on stories about "people caught doing things right." Armstrong International CEO David Armstrong says that when he started telling "hero"stories about people in his company who enacted the organization's values, employee morale, commitment and teamwork shot up. As David told me, "When I step into any of the workspaces in our company, I can see, feel, touch and taste the difference that stories make." Author of several books of stories about people in his organization exhibiting the behavior he wants, Armstrong is dedicated to the practice of leadership storytelling.
What are you waiting for? Start telling stories about people caught doing things right and tell us what happens.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Quit Selling, Starting Telling: Stories Stick!
"Sterile, unauthentic communications are rapidly forgotten..." but stories stay with people. And that's why "modern communicators need to re-visit this lesson," according to an article in yesterday's Digital Marketing
blog. The writer believes that stories are just as effective--and essential--for corporate communications as for any other type of discourse, and urges organizations to quit selling and start telling their stories. I couldn't agree more!
Based on a review of the movie, "The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus", the blog post explains that in the world of the title character, "storytelling the one great act we have left with which to save humanity." Do you agree? Check out the post and tell us what your think: http://tinyurl.com/24o77qq
Friday, April 09, 2010
Great Leaders Focus Stories on Strengths
"The most effective leaders are always investing in strengths," says Tom Rath in his most recent book, Strengths Based Leadership. "In the workplace, when an organization's leadership fails to focus on individuals' strengths, the odds of an employee being engaged are a dismal 1 in 11 (9%).
But, he continues, "When an organization's leadership focuses on the strengths of its employees, the odds soar to almost 3 in 4 (73%). And when leaders focus on and invest in their employees' strengths, the odds of each person being engaged go up eightfold."
Where is your focus? When you communicate with your workforce, do you concentrate on telling stories of what needs to be improved--or do you showcase people's strengths?
To achieve greater employee engagement and productivity, follow Rath's advice by highlighting the successes of "people caught doing things right." Storytelling is the ideal vehicle. A good story draws attention to powerful examples of the behavior you want and implicitly teaches people how to succeed in your organization.
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Great News: Leaders Listening to Employees!
It was heartening to read in yesterday's edition of The Wall Street Journal that CEOs are mindful of interacting more with employees, listening to their concerns--and responding to their ideas for making their workplaces more appealing.
With some of the pressures of the economic crisis lifting, executives report they're able to carve out time to spend with employees. It's an essential part of their leadership responsibilities that all too often gets pushed down to a low priority. Many are recognizing, however, that when business picks up and the job market grows stronger, the best and brightest are going to be ready to jump ship--unless they're confident that their current employers are listening to what's important to them and willing to respond to their needs.
Among those featured in the WSJ are US Airways Group's Douglas Parker, who's visiting regularly with pilots in training sessions; Quicken Loans' Bill Emerson, who's making time to schedule weekly luncheon meeting with employees; and pricewaterhouseCoopers' chairman, Robert Moritz, who's urging executives throughout the firm to "roam the halls" so they can learn what's on employees' minds.
The article is available at http://tinyurl.com/yzpc82l
Thursday, April 01, 2010
The Power of Story Illustrated: Subway's Jared
In Tuesday's Fast Company
column, Dan Heath hearkens back to the Story of Jared, the guy who lost 250 pounds by eating Subway's low-fat sandwiches every day--and was the star of the advertising world for months. As Heath points outs, the phenomenon was due to the power of story over a list of facts.
Contrasting the impact of the real-life story with a previous campaign that focused on the stats (7 sandwiches under 6 grams of fat), Heath points out the key elements of the Jared story that made it so effective: it was unexpected to learn someone could lose weight by eating fast food; the results were concrete (the striking difference in Jared's appearance and especially, the enormous size of his pre-diet pants made it real); and the story of touched people emotionally when they learned how debilitating obesity is. Here's the link to Heath's entire column: http://tinyurl.com/ygb6l98
Note that he listed my book, Around the Corporate Campfire: How Great Leaders Use Stories to Inspire Success
, as one of his favorite resources on the subject. (Thanks, Dan!)
To buy a copy, go to: http://www.corpstory.com/products.htm
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