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Connecting Corporate Executives Through Personal Leadership Stories

One of the key benefits of storytelling is that stories enable people to form connections on a deeper level than we normally do in this fast-paced, "don't have time, gotta do this now" world. For example, if you were to ask yourself how much you really know about the people with whom you work, how much meaningful information would you be able to come list? In addition to data such as spouses and children's names, the town/community in which they live and their personality traits, do you know what motivates the people on your work team? Do you know what they value most? Are you aware of experiences they have had that have made a significant impact on their lives?

When you learn about shared values and listen to stories of your team's life experiences, you connect on a deeper, more meaningful level--and the results are powerful. Your team--and people throughout your organization-- company work together better, become truly committed to one another, and are able, in turn, to serve your customers more effectively. That's why teambuilding is one of the most potent applications of Corporate Storytelling.

In Part I of her series of articles on "The Power of Leadership Storytelling," which was published in "Link&Learn Newsletter," Melissa Delin of Linkage-Inc. discusses her experiences at Wyeth Corporation. (See Corporate Storytelling-- Volume 2, Number 9 for Douglas Ready's discussion of "How Storytelling Builds Next-Generation Leaders".) Building on another consultant's work, Linkage-Inc. expanded the use storytelling and made it an integral part of the company's Executive Leadership Development Program. "Leadership development, at its core, is about creating changes in thinking and behavior," Delin says, "... (and) executive storytelling is a powerful medium for recognizing and cultivating leadership potential."

She describes the impact of having the leaders share personal stories with one another: the result "was overwhelmingly positive and helped to fuel constructive dialogue among teams about values, principles, and share vision." Tim Fidler, executive director of Leadership Development at Wyeth reported, "Having Wyeth leaders share their stories with their teams adds an entirely new dimension to Wyeth's vision and values."

Instead of lecturing their employees, leaders became storytellers and coaches, and people throughout the organization became more open with one another. The "buzz" spread quickly through the company. Delin says, "Most of all, they experienced a sense of connection - with one another, with senior leaders, and with company values."

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Evelyn Clark, The Corporate Storyteller, is president of Clark & Company, a marketing communication firm in the Seattle area. A public relations practitioner with more than 20 years experience, she was accredited by the Public Relations Society of America in 1986. Her firm's services include facilitation of retreats and communication workshops, marketing and communication management, media relations strategy development, and media training. All content © Clark & Company (unless otherwise indicated). All rights reserved.

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