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





The Challenge About Trust.

7 01 2015

As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live —-Johan Wolfgang Goethe

“Can you trust a virtual avatar ? A Robot ?An unknown person on Facebook ? How trust works in a world of rapid technological advancement and virtual interaction — a world where the science of trust can be manipulated and used for good or ill”.

Responsibilities are given to him on whom trust rests. Responsibility is always a sign of trust —-James Cash Penney

‘The Truth About Trust’, is an interesting book about how we think about trust, but also how we understand, communicate and make decisions in every area of our life. Psychologist David De Steno, makes us aware of how trust influences us at every level and at every stage of life.

We all have the need to trust and be trusted. The writer makes us aware that the need to trust implies the fundamental fact, that we are all vulnerable. “The ability to satisfy your needs or obtain the outcomes you desire is not entirely under your control. Whether a business partner embezzles profits that doom your corporation, a spouse has an affair that wrecks your marriage, or a supposed confidant tweets a personal factoid that ruins your reputation, your well-being, like it or not, often depends on the cooperation of others”.

In trust we have great benefits and great risks. “We rely on it to find a path to success – a path that, for humans, often necessitates the cooperation, of others”.

De Steno, makes us aware that if we place trust the right way, it engenders success in learning, in intimate relationships , in building social networks, and, in reality, in most every interpersonal endeavour that requires joint action. However, placed incorrectly, failure awaits.

In communication, both verbal and nonverbal, the purpose is to pass information to someone else. “To understand why trust is different, consider the following. Imagine you possessed an easily detectable and unambiguous signal that indicated you were trustworthy – say a giant letter T on your forehead. What would happen ? Everyone, and I mean everyone, would want you as a partner. But with this popularity would come one big problem: many of those desiring to partner with you might not be trustworthy themselves. They’d know you’d be easy to exploit; unlike them, you’d always hold up your end of the deal. In the end, you’d lose everything you had, you’d be popular but poor”.

Body language is not always giving the signals we think it is. The author gives us an example of a person leaning away which indicates a hidden desire to avoid or otherwise distance oneself from an interaction partner. De Steno;”That may well be true at times. But if you’re looking to identify untrustworthy individuals based solely on body orientations, lots of people with bad backs are going to be labeled as threats”.

Good examples on how wrong we may perceive peoples body language. “A man feeling its leg thinks the elephant is a pillar. Another feeling its tail thinks it’s a rope. A third feeling it’s tusk thinks the elephant is a pipe. You get the idea”. Let us take a closer look on how the author explain; “If we’re not looking at cues as sets in a specific context, we’re likely to miss the forest for the trees. If we’re looking for trust in single micro-expressions or out of context, we won’t see it at all”.

The nonverbal behaviour mostly occurs outside our awareness which according to the  author, means that people are almost constantly emitting cues without knowing it. “And if they’re not aware they’re doing something, how in the world are we going to make them control it ? Training them to be aware doesn’t really work”.

Leaders who show trust to their people are in return trusted by them.

Through his book; On Becoming a Leader, Warren Bennis, makes us aware of the importance of trust between leaders and co-workers. “Leadership without mutual trust is a contradiction in terms. Trust resides squarely between faith and doubt”.

Bennis, tells us that leaders always have faith in themselves, their co-workers, their abilities as well as their mutual possibilities. “But leaders also have sufficient doubt to question, challenge, probe, and thereby progress. Bennis;”In the same way, his or her co-workers must believe in the leader, themselves, and their combined strength, but they must feel sufficiently confident to question, challenge, probe, and test too”. A primary task for every leader is to maintain that vital balance between faith and doubt, preserving that mutual trust.

De Steno, tells us that when we are being trustworthy, it is not only about being fair and honest when dealing with other people who is depending on you, it also involves being competent. Meaning from an evolutionary perspective, have the ability to know whether other people is capable of helping you, is as important as knowing whether or not they’ll choose to actually do it.

“Unlike signals related to fairness and loyalty, however, subtlety isn’t quite as important for signals of competence. Although broad casting a willingness to cooperate might be risky before you know whether a potential partner is similarly inclined, signalling competency poses no similar peril. To the contrary, the only purpose it serves is to demonstrate one’s desirability as a partner or leader upon whom others can rely”.

The question here is not about the pride and feelings of competence is doing for the people experiencing them, according to De Steno, it is about how these feelings send signals of trustworthiness to other people. “Wisdom comes from knowing when and why to rely on reason or intuition – from knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each. The case of trust is no different”.

True intuitive expertise is learned from prolonged experience with good feedback on mistakes —-Daniel Kahneman


Inger Lise E Greger/Master of Science in Change Management

Understanding Moral Intelligence and Values.

16 01 2014

In our lives we have chosen our own moral compass.

In our world we meet with people from different cultures and values.

In organizations people with different needs and values has to work and relate to each other. Organizations will not survive the test of time without strong values.

Leaders who actively apply moral values to achieve enduring success, makes their companies great. “For today’s leaders, it is even more clear that moral competence is not a nice to have , it is a must have”.

Compassion is the basis of morality.     Arthur Schopenhauer.

Through my reading of the book; Moral Intelligence, my eyes opened towards the importance of a leaders responsibility and understanding of the people in the organizations. However, we should not take for granted that every leader is capable of understanding moral intelligence, but those who do and involves has a passion for their people show’s their ability of being moral intelligent.

About the authors of this important book; Doug Lennick, works as CEO of Lennick Aberman Group, in addition he works directly with the CEO of Ameriprise Financial, retaining the EVP title and focusing on workforce culture and performance.

Fred Kiel, PH.D; often called ‘father of executive coaching’ because of his pioneering work is cofounder of KRW, International, Inc. He has 30 year’s experience with Fortune 500 executives on building organizational effectiveness through leadership excellence.

The third contributing author; Kathy Jordan who is a psychologist, coach, writer, editor and consultant highly regarded for her inventive and practical approaches to managing strategic change and enhancing business performance.

Moral intelligence is the key-element through this book and the authors show how greater moral intelligence can lead to higher trust and engagement, but also retention and innovation.

Author’s; “The best leaders think we, not I “. They are quite simply, good people who consistently  tap into their inborn disposition to be moral. They follow a moral compass – even when it’s tempting not to”. Also they believe in honesty and see themselves and others. These great leaders are capable of sharing common moral values. ” They show compassion for their fellow humans and know how to forgive others – and just as important – themselves”.

When the author’s are talking about moral intelligence, they describe it as new for the playing field. “Just as emotional intelligence and cognitive intelligence are different from one another, moral intelligence is another distinct intelligence”. Moral intelligence describes our personal values, goals, and actions.

Leaders need to be aware of what the author’s call differentiating competencies. Moral intelligence and emotional intelligence are two types of intelligence. The challenge to many corporate leaders is to understand these ‘soft skills’ and see the differentiating.

Daniel Goleman’s books on emotional intelligence, makes us aware of the importance of emotional skills to corporate leaders.

From his book; Focus, The Hidden Driver of  Excellence, Goleman say; ” Empathy in its many forms from simple listening to reading the paths of influence in an organization, shows up more often in leadership competence studies. Most of the competencies for high – performing leaders fall into a more visible category that builds on empathy: relationship strengths like influence and persuasion, teamwork and cooperation, and the like”.

Goleman makes us aware of the importance on managing ourselves and sensing how what we do affects others.

The authors from the book; Moral Intelligence, makes us aware of four principles they think are important and vital for sustained personal and organizational success: integrity, responsibility, compassion and forgiveness.


The foundation stones for a balanced success are honesty, character, integrity, faith, love and loyalty.   Zig Ziglar

Integrity is a key-element of a morally intelligent person, on the other hand, if we lack integrity we lack moral intelligence by definition. We are focused on doing what we know is right.

The integrity competencies include; acting consistently with principles, values, and beliefs. Telling the truth.  Standing up for what is right, and keeping promises.

Telling the truth and leading with openness and honesty in organizations, includes defining reality under challenging circumstances. “When times are tough, leaders need to tell the truth while providing people with real reasons for hope and optimism”.

To be open and honest includes also, performance, the painful truth and standing up for what is right, and keeping promises is of huge importance and proves that we can be trusted to do what we tell to do. Author’s;” Keeping promises usually requires assistance from a few emotional competencies – the self-awareness to recognize the inconsistency between our intentions and actions and the self-control to adopt disciplined work habits that enable us to keep our promises”.

Another important key-element in trust is to honore confidence. The privacy of others is confident and the leader has a big responsibility to keep it that way. Author’s;”When leaders betray confidences, they lose more than the respect of their work associates. They also dry up valuable sources of information because their employees and colleagues learn to withhold sensitive information from a loose-lipped leader”.


The difficulty we have in accepting responsibility for our behavior lies in the desire to avoid the pain of the consequences of that behavior.    M. Scott Peck

Responsibility includes; taking responsibility for personal choices, admitting mistakes and failures, and embracing responsibility for serving others.

Glenn Lopis, is a contributor for Forbes and writes about leadership, he say; “Leaders that are self-aware, are clear about their identity and expectations, have the backs of others and can be trusted – they are the ones we instinctively gravitate towards”.

Leaders need to take responsibility for their personal choices and accept that they are accountable for the results of the choices they make. Author’s; “Responsibility is a radical competency because it requires that we accept personal responsibility for everything that we do, even though we each live in a complicated world where bosses, family members and friends all exert pressure on us to act in certain ways”.

If you want to be respected as a leader it includes the willingness to take responsibility when things go wrong. An organization that does not tolerate mistakes, are not showing responsibility. Author’s; “First, admitting personal mistakes helps an organization be healthier in several ways. If you admit you screwed up, this will prevent someone else from being blamed for your mistake . Second,  admitting mistakes creates a bond with other employees who feel that you are more approachable by virtue of your admission of fallibility. Third, if you can admit mistakes, it gives a strong signal of tolerance to the organization,  we all make mistakes”.

Embracing responsibility for serving others.

Glenn Lopis; “The most memorable leaders give you the time that they don’t always have. They recognize that their employees need attention and will find a way to make the time to listen to their concerns and provide insights to the situation at hand”.

If you want employees to be happy and give their knowledge to the organization, leaders need to serve them. Author’s; “Imagine how your employees will respond  if you consistently demonstrate that your primary leadership job is to help employees accomplish their own goals”.

Compassion and Forgiveness.

Wisdom, compassion, and courage are the three universally recognized moral qualities of men.    Confucius

A leader who cares about their employees makes them grow and are helping them achieving their goals. Glenn Lopis; “The leaders that are most grateful for your hard work and efforts will be the most memorable”.

The forgiveness competencies includes, letting go of one’s own mistakes, and letting go of other’s mistakes. Here, the author’s makes us aware of these two forgiveness competencies frequently considered “mirror competencies”, because they are clearly closely related. Author’s; “Some of us are much better at forgiving ourselves than others and vice versa. Many of us are hard on ourselves because of perfectionism. We can let go of other’s mistakes but hold on to our own, sometimes we are our own worst critics”.

Here the author’s makes it clear that effective leaders know that letting go of mistakes – their own and others – clears the way for better future performance.

If we cannot forgive it is impossible to relate to the people in organizations as well as in the private zone.

The moral leader are able to see the good things in people. Author’s; “Even though people are not perfect, and even though they make mistakes, most people have good intentions”.

Moral leaders are good motivators. “Moral leaders accelerate and enhance high performance by actively encouraging everyone in the organization to apply their moral principles to their individual actions while also creating organization – wide policies practices, and reward systems based on moral values”.

About morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.      Ernest Hemingway

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

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