The Art Of Storytelling

13 02 2018

Storytelling is the essential human activity. The harder the situation, the more essential it is.                Tim O´Brien

“The symbol; The New One Minute Manager’s symbol is intended to remind each of us to take a minute out of our day to look into the faces of the people we lead and manage. And to realize that they are our most important resources”.

This book really caught my eye as it is written in such a simple and easily understandable way through storytelling.

Throughout the story the authors reveal three very practical secrets; One Minute Goal, One Minute Praising’s, and One Minute Re-Directs, which they call the new, third secret.

This book will help organizations find new ways to adapt and prosper as well as find meaning in our work by giving us inspiration. It is based on studies on behavioral sciences and medicine which support why these methods are of great success.

Ken Blanchard, one of the two authors of this book, is considered a highly influential leadership expert who has co-authored 60 books, including “Raving Fans” and “Gung Ho!” (With Sheldon Bowles).

The second author, Spencer Johnson, is admired as both a leader and an author, and is maybe best known for writing the bestselling book “Who Moved My Cheese ?” He is also seen as an expert on finding simple, effective solutions to complex subjects and problems.

To make this book interesting, the authors are telling us a story about a bright young man searching for a special kind of manager who could lead and manage in todays rapidly changing world.

The young man wants to find a manager that can both encourage the people and make the organization successful and profitable. He had already spoken to many managers who had tried to deal with this rapidly changing world; executives, government, administrators, entrepreneurs and so on.

He wasn’t always pleased with what he saw according to how people manage people. He had witnessed ‘tough’ managers where the organisations seemed to win at the expense of the people.

Some of the managers thought they were good managers while some thought otherwise. The young man asked brief and interesting questions to the managers in their offices. He wanted to know what kind of managers they thought they were. The answers varied only slightly, when he heard their pride in their voices. Some of the answers would be; “I’m a bottom-line manager. “I keep on top of the situation !”. “Hard-nosed”. “Realistic”. “Profit-minded”.

Authors; “They said they had always managed that way and saw no reason to change. He heard the pride in their voices and their interest in the results”.

On the other hand the young man had heard about managers who had succeeded with their people and lost with their organizations. These kind of managers said; “I’m a participative manager”. “Supportive”. “Considerate”. “Humanistic”. Authors; “They also said they had always managed that way and saw no reason to change. He heard the pride in their voices and their interest in people. But he was disturbed. It was as though most managers in the world were still managing the way they had always done and were primarily interested either in results or in people”.

The young man describes the autocratic manager and the democratic manager. The autocratic is described as result oriented, and the democratic as interested in their people. “The young man thought each of these types-the ‘tough’ autocratic and the ‘nice’ democrat was only partially effective. It’s like being half a manager he thought”.

The story continues with the young man still searching in hope of finding the effective manager, but he almost gave up searching, thinking that he would never find this mythical person. He had however, heard some rumours about a special manager that people liked to work for and that produced great results.

He wanted to check this amazing manager out for himself, and, to make a long story short, he finally met him. During their meeting the young man asked the manager many questions about his managing style, and was impressed by all the interesting answers. The amazing manager described himself as the ‘New One Minute Manager’. He used this nickname because both him and his staff had found new ways to great results in a shorter amount of time. The young man spoke to the rest of the manager’s team and had interesting conversations with them as well. He learned a lot.

Among other things, he learned about the three secrets to One Minute Management; One Minute Goals, One Minute Praising’s and One Minute Re-Directs.

One Minute Goals: “Make it clear what the goals are. Show what good behaviour looks like. Put each goal on one page. Quickly review goals frequently. Encourage people to notice what they’re doing, and see if it matches their goals. If not, urge them to change what they’re doing and win.

One Minute Praising’s: “Praise the behavior. Do it soon, be specific. Say how good you feel about it. Pause to let people feel good too. Encourage them to keep up the good work.”

One Minute Re-Direct: “Re-clarify and agree on goals. Confirm what happened. Describe the mistake soon. Say how concerned you feel. Pause to let people feel their own concern. Tell them they’re better than the mistake, and you value them. When its over, its over.”

Towards the end of the story, the curious young man finds himself becoming a One Minute Manager. He was great at it because he led and managed by example, not because he thought or talked in a certain manner. He managed in simple ways, through the three secrets of one minute management, and by asking brief, but important questions. He was honest, he worked hard, all while laughing and enjoying himself.

The story ends with the young man being contacted by a young woman, who, much like himself many years ago, wants to ask him about his managing style. Just like in real life, this shows the importance of passing on our lessons and knowledge.  (Ref. The New One Minute Manger, by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson)

As shown through this book, a good story engage people and is a great way to learn and share experiences and knowledge.

This book is not the only good example on the importance of storytelling in organizations. Another great storyteller is the guru Robert McKee. He is a highly sought after lecturer, internationally. He has spent the last three decades of his life being an educator and a mentor to everything from screenwriters, to poets, to directors all over the globe. He is called “the Aristotle of our time” because of his insight into the substance, style, structure and principles of the grand art of stories. He says; “Storytelling has to be true”. This short, yet so profound quote explains the simple truth of storytelling, it always has to be true.

McKee; “Good story means something worth telling that the world wants to hear”. He makes us aware that finding a good story is a lonely task. And even though we might love great stories with inspiring characters and a worlds full of passion and bliss, this isn’t enough. The goal has to be a good story well told.

Good stories are important inspirational sources for people, it could for example be implemented in knowledge sharing or you can gain new wisdom from them. People can recognize episodes from stories and they can draw their own pictures from them. (Ref. Storytelling from my blog)

From his article in Harvard Business Review, Joseph Grenny writes about great storytelling. Grenny; “Most storytelling is brief. It involves using concrete examples that reframe a moment by personifying human consequences. People’s feelings about their work are only partly about the work itself. They are equally, if not more so, about how they frame their work. do they see it as empty compliance? Or do they see it as sacred duty? If you change the frame you change the feeling. And nothing changes frames faster than a story.” (Ref. Harvard Business Review, Great Storytelling Connects Employees to Their work, by Joseph Grenny)

Paul J. Zak says in another article from Harvard Business Review, that many business people have discovered the power of storytelling in organizations, and in a practical sense. Author; “Many of us know from Joseph Campbell’s work that enduring stories tend to share a dramatic arc in which a character struggles and eventually finds heretofore unknown abilities and uses these to triumph over adversity; my work shows that the brain is highly attracted to this story style”. (Ref. Harvard Business Review, Why Your Brain Loves Good Storytelling, by Paul J. Zak)

Zak, tells us that storytelling is a great tool to use if you want to motivate, persuade or be remembered. You start with a story of human struggle which eventually end with triumph. Zak; “It will capture peoples hearts-by first attracting their brains”.

To finish this article, I will leave with a quote from the man that says it best, McKee:

Write every day, line by line, page by page, hour by hour. Do this despite fear. For above all else, beyond imagination and skill, what the world asks of you is courage to risk rejection, ridicule and failure. As you follow the quest for stories told with meaning and beauty, study thoughtfully but write boldly. Then, like the hero of the fable, your dance will dazzle the world”.

Author; Inger Lise E Greger, MSc in Change Management

 

 

 

 





Tough Decisions.

11 11 2017

When your values are clear to you, making decisions become easier.          Roy E. Disney

Life can be challenging and we all have to make choices. Some choices may be more challenging than others and can put you in really tough situations. Still, you have to make a choice for your decision.

From this interesting article; How to Tackle Your Toughest Decisions, by Joseph L. Badaracco, who is is the John Shad Professor of Business Ethics at Harvard School gives us insights in how to handle tough decisions in organisations as well as in life in general.

Badaracco; “Good judgement relies on two things: One is the best possible understanding and analysis of the situation. The other involves the values, ideals, vulnerabilities, and experiences of whoever will be making the decision.”

When you have chosen your decision and committed to it and act on it, you have to take the consequences of your choice say Badaracco. Author; “After considering outcomes, duties, practicalities and values, you must decide what matters most and what matters less. This has always been the challenge of taking on any serious responsibilities at work and in life.”

In daily life you are faced with challenging situations and adversity. The question is how you take it and analyse the difficulties you are faced with. Managers has to take difficult decisions almost everyday in organizations.

From another article; How to Bounce Back from Adversity, Joshua D. Margolis and Paul Stoltz, is talking about how to handle our instinctive reactions to crisis. Authors; “We believe that managers can build high levels of resilience in themselves and their teams by taking charge of how they think about adversity. Resilient managers move quickly from analysis, to a plan of action (and reaction). After the onset of adversity, they shift from cause-oriented thinking to response-oriented thinking, and their focus is strictly forward.”

Through their work with leaders from different companies and industries, the authors have identified four lenses through which managers can view adverse events on how to make this shift effectively. These four lenses are: Control, impact, breadht and duration. 

Here a short description of the four lenses; Control. Here a crisis occurs. “Do you look for what you can improve now rather than trying to identify all the factors – even those beyond your control – that caused it in the first place ? Impact. Instead of focusing on the origins of the problem in yourself and others, you focus on your positive effects your actions might have ? Breadht. “Do you assume that the underlying cause of the crisis is specific and can be contained, or do you worry that it might cast a long shadow over all aspects of your life ?” Duration. “How long do you believe that the crisis and it’s repercussions will last ?

The two first lenses; control and impact is characterising an individuals personal reaction to adversity.

Breadht and duration captures his or her impressions of adversity’s magnitude.

Authors; “Managers should consider all four to fully understand their instinctive responses to personal and professional challenges, or failures”.

When adversity strikes us, both in organizations and in the private zone of life, we can easily get in to negative emotions. The authors say that people commonly fall into one of two emotional traps. And one of them is deflation. Here is what the authors say; “Someone who has marched steadily through a string of success can easily come to feel like a hero, able to fix any problem single-handedly. A traumatic event can snap that person back to reality. Even for the less heroic among us, adversity can touch off intense bursts of negative emotion-as if a dark cloud had settled behind our eyes, as one manager described it”.

We can feel disappointments in ourselves and others, mistreated and dispirited as well as even besieged.

In the other article; How to tackle your toughest decisions, Badaracco say; “The phrase ‘the world as it is’ points toward Niccolo´Machiavelli’s thinking-a perspective that might seem surprising in an article about making responsible decisions. But his view is important because it acknowledges that we don’t live in a predictable, calm environment populated with virtuous people. The world Machiavelli described is unpredictable, difficult, and shaped by self-interest”.

The author say that we can have sound plans and they can end badly, as well as bad plans can turn out good. What happens is simply beyond our control. Leaders are in a position where they rarely have unlimited freedom and resources, and they often have to make painful and difficult choices. “And a great many individuals and groups will pursue their own agendas, skilfully or clumsily, if not persuaded to do otherwise”.

Badaracco are talking about five practical questions in his writing  which can improve your odds in making sound judgements in challenging situations, even when your data is unclear or incomplete, opinions are divided and the answers are far from obvious.

-1 What are the net, net consequences of all my options ?

-2 What are my core obligations ?

-3 What will work in the world as it is ?

-4 Who are we ?

-5 What can I live with ?

These five questions are guidelines for helping to solve challenging and difficult problems in tough situations. All the questions must be answered according the author, to help come to a sound decision when dealing with a hard problem.

Looking back at the other article; How to bounce back from adversity, the authors are using the four lenses (control, impact, breadht and duration) in challenging situations for solving problems. However, in addition to these four lenses the authors are using what they call a resilience regimen. This is a reflexive approach to dealing with adversity. Here they explain; “By asking a series of pointed questions, managers can grasp their own and their direct reports’ habits of thought and help reframe negative events in productive ways. With the four lenses as a guide, they can learn to stop feeling paralyzed by crisis, respond with strength and creativity, and help their direct reports do the same.”

The resilience regimen, sketches their questions with a focus on specifying, visualizing and collaborating which clarifies each one of the four aspects of resilient thinking. Authors; ” Use these questions to replace negative responses with creative , resourceful ones, and get things done whatever the real or perceived obstacles”.

From; How to tackle your toughest decisions, Badaracco makes us aware of the heavy responsibility leadership is. When you are in the grey areas, your job as a leader isn’t finding solutions, you have to create them and relying on your judgement. Author; “As an executive I greatly respect once told me, We really want someone or some rule to tell us what to do. But sometimes there isn’t one, and you have to decide what the most relevant rules or principles are in this particular case”.

Let us take responsibilities and search for solutions in challenging situations.

Hope you find this reading interesting and useful.

Author, Inger Lise E Greger, Master of Science in Change Management

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





Humility in Leadership Matters.

17 04 2015

Humility is the solid foundation of all virtues.         Confucius

“If you lead, or aspire to lead, people in an organization, then you must make many assessments every day. Think of the job you have right now. Before deciding to join your organization, you had to assess the company or organisation – the location , pay package, and opportunity for advancement. However, it is unlikely that any of the assessments that you made – or continue to make – are more important than the assessments you make of people. That is the Pope Francis imperative; people first, and then everything else follows”.

Jeffrey A Krames is a bestselling author and has written; Lead with Humility. This is a book about Pope Francis leadership style. The author translates the popes key issues as well as his ideas and practices into practical tactics which anyone can copy.

Pope Francis is a great man with a big heart and is a leader among leaders, and has also proven that he is a man of the people. Francis makes us aware that we need to understand that leaders lead people and not institutions. Francis; “Unfortunately, too few people understand this in an increasingly impersonal, high-tech working environment”

Krames, makes us aware that fewer leaders roam the halls of our largest corporations as well as setting positive examples of effective leadership. Pope Francis is a great example with his unique leadership style in action and his genuineness which people can see from the Pope.

Kramer; “However, leadership is not about perfection; it is about espousing a new vision and getting others to live that vision. In that respect, Pope Francis has been incredibly successful. Peter Drucker would call him a ‘natural’, a ‘born’ leader”.

Pope Francis would be the last person to call himself a natural leader or a born leader, such self-praise would be completely out of character for him.

Krames refers to a Harvard Business Review blog post that makes us aware of the amount of scores of books, articles, and studies that warn us of the perils of hubris – and yet the attribute of humility seems to be neglected. The blog post inform us that the attribute of humility seems to be neglected; in leadership development programs; Perhaps this owes to some feeling that humility would hold a leader back, these mavericks and sui generic leaders who dislike being restrained” Others may feel they are humble enough, and many might feel that humility can’t be taught or learned. “You have it or you don’t, so reading a book on it would not add to their ‘humility quotient’.

Krames refers to what Bergoglio wrote before becoming pope; “If we can develop a truly humble attitude, we can change the world”. Krames; “And he misses no opportunity to show that a person can never be too humble and that people can learn to be more humble.

Leadership is all about people stuff. A key element of  a leader is to set goals and create performance indicators. The employees should be empowered to solve problems as well as achieving results. This will enable innovation and create trust. A prerequisite of a leader, is an open dialogue with their employees to clarify what goals are, and equally important, what they are not. Open communication will help visualize the expectancy the leader has of the employees and avoid misunderstanding.  ( My blog)

Francis; “We have to be humble, but with real humility, from head-to-toe”.

Here are some of Francis important leadership lessons;

– The first one if you are fortunate to be a leader, do not to use your position for selfish reasons.

– Do not signalize to workers or colleagues that you are above them

– Move out of your corner office to an inside office or even a cubicle

Krames; “Engaging people in an in-depth conversation is near the top of Pope Francis’s leadership to-do list. Bergoglio; “Dialogue is born from a respectful attitude toward the other person, from a conviction that the other person has something good to say. It supposes that we can make room in our heart for their point of view, their opinion, and their proposals. Dialogue entails a warm reception and not a preemptive condemnation. To dialogue, one must know how to lower the defences, to open the door’s of one’s home and to offer warmth”.

Kramer makes us aware of Bergoglio’s pragmatism which makes him capable of understanding the roadblocks to successful communication. “There are many barriers in everyday life that impede dialogue; misinformation, gossip, prejudices, defamation, and slander.”

Warren Bennis; “Leaders come in every size, shape, and disposition-short, tall, neat, sloppy, young, old, male, and female. Nevertheless, they all seem to share some, if not all, of the following ingredients; The first basic ingredient of leadership is a guiding vision, passion, integrity, trust, curiosity and daring.

Integrity in Bennis mind, consists of three essential parts; self-knowledge, candor, and maturity.

Bennis; “Know thyself, was the inscription over the Oracle at Delphi. And it is still the most difficult task any of us faces. But until you truly know yourself, strenghts and weaknesses, know what you want to do and why you want to do it, you cannot succeed in any but the most superficial sense of the word”.

Inclusion means leaving no one behind. In todays world, people works together with people from different cultures, and you have to adapt to each other. Many organizations has a challenge in getting better to open up for inclusion. “Leaving no one behind” is the essence of Francis.

Krames;” That is the difference between Pope Francis and so many other leaders in our society. Leaders in government and business often say something because they know that it is what various constituencies want to hear. But when Francis says something, he speaks from the truth of personal experience, and he operates not by appealing to influential minorities but by empowering the people he serves”.

Humility in leadership is all about their people.

Human self-understanding changes with time, and so also human consciousness deepens.            Pope Francis

Author, Inger Lise E Greger, MSc Change Management

https://inger-lise.net/page/2/





Leaders Will To Simplify.

19 02 2015

Simplicity, simplicity ———        Henry David Thoreau

Complexity makes us confused, but simplicity makes us released.

We are all in the same boat and has a need to understand things without complications; a job, a paper, a loan, colleagues, a leader, communication and so on. The question is why we complicate things.

Alan Siegel and Irene Etzkorn has written the book; Simple, and conquering the crisis of complexity.

Authors; “A crisis of complexity has escalated to a critical point where a decision must be made. We either relinquish the power to understand and control what affects us, or we fight for a better, simpler way to conduct our daily affairs and our commercial transactions”.

Simplicity and clarity goes hand-in-hand, and has a clear intent that easily and quickly conveys its purpose of use.  Authors; ” With even greater magnification, you find that it’s about essence – cutting to what matters, delivering substantive content that seems to speak to an audience of one”.

The authors make us aware of the importance of removing barriers, both inside the company as well as removing barriers that separates the company from the outside world. This form of simplification requires breaking down walls inside the company.

A culture of simplicity seems to blossom in open cultures. People are able to communicate openly, both with insiders as well as those outside the company.

Authors; “Something has changed recently, however. People have begun to fight as never before for clarity, transparency, and fairness in their dealings with business and government. More and more are becoming simplicity warriors – without the need for a Nader-like leader. They’re doing it themselves, armed only with social media and a healthy sense of outrage”.

Those of us who has been in situations of receiving too much confusion for too long, are ready for a simplicity movement. Authors; “One of the great misconceptions about the complexity crisis is the belief that the people who made things so complicated – the bureaucrats, the technocrats, the lawyers – are the only ones who can get us out of this mess. But if we wait for help from those who’ve developed and fostered the confusion, we may be waiting a long time”.

Here the authors makes us aware of some important key-elements to use in simplifying:

-we can transform the way we do business

-we can reinvent the everyday practices and process plagued by complexity.

From his book; “On becoming a Leader”, Warren Bennis, has some interesting views on simplicity; “The universe may not be very complex, but it is, nevertheless, complex. And as I mentioned earlier, the social laws are more complex and less certain than the natural ones. But despite the complexity, we cannot stand still. We must continue to swing from tree to tree, although the trees may be ideas, and we may be using axons instead of arms to make the connections. We might want to take Alfred North Whitehead’s advice here; “Seek simplicity, then distrust it”.

Bennis is also saying that our culture is in need of more right-brain qualities like the needs to be more intuitive, conceptual, synthesizing and artistic.

Bennis; “In any corporation, managers serve as the left brain and the research and development staff serves as the right brain, but the CEO must combine both, must have both administrative and imaginative gifts. One of the reasons that so few corporate executives have successfully made the leap from capable manager to successful leader is that the corporate culture, along with society as a whole, recognizes and rewards left brain accomplishments and tends to discount right-brain achievements. Bottom – line thinking is a manifestation of left-brain dominance. Habits are born in the left brain and unmade in the right”.

When we connect with people, we have to speak their languages. Jargons are often used in companies and government where they speak in a language they understand and you don’t.

Siegel and Etzkorn; “This isn’t necessarily intentional, organizations get accustomed to using a kind of insider shorthand to communicate among themselves – no harm there. The problem occurs when internal jargon finds its way into external communication, which it inevitably and increasingly does. When this happens, companies are in effect talking to themselves in public”.

Here the authors makes us aware that the use of jargon is an important example of lack of empathy in cases when you fail to consider the frame of reference in how your message will be received.

Authors; “As a result, important messages can become lost in translation, making it impossible to reach across lines, connect, and collaborate”.

The authors, is questioning if a company is capable of transforming itself so that simplicity becomes part of its DNA. “The mission statement is only the beginning. Companies that embrace simplification must make sure that all of their communications and processes measure up to the highest standards of clarity”.

Here, the authors includes internal communication as well as the importance of external communication.

Back to Bennis; No leader sets out to be a leader. People set out to live their lives, expressing themselves fully. When that expression is of value, they become leaders”.

Bennis, makes us aware of how important it is to become yourself, to use yourself completely including your skills, gifts and energies if you want to make your vision manifest.

“So strike hard, try everything, do everything, render everything, and become the person you are capable of being”.

Hope is a waking dream——–-Aristotle

Written by

Inger Lise E Greger/MSc Change Management

https://inger-lise.net/page/2/








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