Q. Aren’t great leaders born, not made?
A. No. The idea that great leaders are born, not made, stems from failing to identify what transformational leaders actually do to achieve the results they are said to achieve. Until the specific behaviors of transformational leadership are identified, it’s impossible to train people in leadership. Now The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling identifies the precise, measurable and trainable behaviors that are needed to achieve the goals of transformational leadership. It shows not only what is the right story to tell, but also how to tell it properly -- in a business context. By revealing the secrets of these narrative techniques, the book shows how anyone can become a transformational leader.
Q. Which leaders in the public eye have cemented their success with storytelling?
A. Among the CEOs cited in The Leader’s Guide for effective storytelling in business are: Lou Gerstner of IBM (pp. 26-27, 229, 269), James Sinegal of Costco (p.137), Michael Dell of Dell (p.83), Anita Roddick of The Body Shop (p.90). More recently, Anne Mulcahy, CEO of Xerox, has attributed her success in the turnaround to storytelling. The sign of effective organizational storytelling is that attention is drawn to the story, not to the storyteller. Listeners don’t say: “What a great storyteller!” Instead, they say: “How interesting!” (p.29)
Q. Compared to analysis, does narrative really have a role to play in the business world?
A. Analysis rightly drives most business thinking when it comes to doing things better or cheaper or quicker. But survival in today’s morphing global economy requires a capability not only to do more of the same, but also to do something fundamentally different, i.e. transformational innovation. Companies have to become different, not just at their periphery through extensions of existing businesses, but in their core. This is something that traditional command-and-control approaches are not good at. Narrative techniques are needed to get people to understand strange new ideas and adopt new unfamiliar practices enthusiastically and with passion.
Q. How large a phenomenon is storytelling?
A. Deidre McCloskey, Distinguished Professor of the Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago, has calculated that persuasion constitutes more than a quarter of the US GNP: American Economic Review, Vol. 85, No. 2, 195. If storytelling is – conservatively – at least half of persuasion, then storytelling amounts to 14 percent of GNP, or more than a trillion dollars per year. (p. xvi)