Over 200 years ago a man on horseback dressed in civilian clothes rode past a small group of exhausted soldiers digging an obviously important defensive position. This was the Revolutionary War, and America was fighting for its freedom, and at this point during the war they were on the cusp of losing. As the man rode by this group of soldiers their section leader was screaming at his men and threatening punishment if the work wasn’t completing by the deadline – after all the British were coming!
The stranger on horseback boldly speaking out of line asked the leader “why aren’t you helping them?” The section leader replied with an air of smugness that “I am their leader. The men do as I tell them. Help them yourself if you feel so strongly about it.”
To the section leaders surprise the stranger dismounted his horse, grabbed what equipment that was available, and help the men complete the defensive project. The man worked tirelessly with the soldiers to finish the bunker by the necessary deadline. Now with the project complete the stranger gathered the men, and congratulated them for a job well done.
Heading back to his horse he approached the section leader and said “you should notify top command next time your rank prevents you from supporting your men – and I will provide a more permanent solution.” Puzzled and taken aback by what he just witnesses the leader took a closer look, and realized the stranger was no stranger, and in fact General George Washington.
We all love stories. Anyone that tells you they don’t is lying. If you watch movies, read books, watch TV, or even watch videos online you love stories. While the above story may not be historically accurate, the lesson is still applicable. As leaders we are not above our team. In fact “officers eat last.”
As a guru for all things leadership, one of the things that I have really been trying to work on is my storytelling. Stories in business have an incredible amount of value. Using stories as a leader can help you inspire your organization, help you teach what is right and wrong in the context of your core values, help you create vision, and help you tell your customers who you are. In fact, we am such big believers in telling stories that it is in the mantra of what we do at Liamer. We believe every business has a story to tell, and that is our goal is to help you tell your story to your customers so they do more business with you. The value of stories is exponential.
Yes, part of me does use this as an excuse so I can read more children’s books, but that is just practice for being a dad one day, right? Well that is what I tell myself anyway.
We challenge you to look at how you use story’s in your organization, and how you use them to tell your customers and partners about what you believe in, and why you do what you do.
Every business, every product, and every person has a story to them. Unlocking and sharing that story appeals to our emotions, and help us relate to each other. As leaders it makes us human. Stop having meetings, stop coaching to a performance matrix, and just stop overall following numbers so much. Take a step back, and use the art of storytelling to guide your team/family, and you will be amazed by how much more people will do when they are inspired and see you in the trenches with them.
Don’t be that section leader who only tells people what to do…