Let's Find the Stories Around Us

  Image courtesy of KoratMember, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of KoratMember, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This weekend, I was queueing up daily quotes from my recent readings and placed this one in the mix:

The trick (challenge) to finding ideas is to convince yourself that everyone and everything has a story to tell (Malcolm Gladwell).

While I believe this powerful thought has application across all facets of our lives, I want to focus just a minute on two practical applications for our leadership.

First, when we walk into a new situation as a leader, it's best to do more listening than talking. I've seen too many leaders who are assigned to a new role, a new department, or even a new organization walk in talking. They ignore the stories of the people who have been there longer than they have, and try to build their own story. While I believe leaders are often required to make changes, I think it's wise to hear the pre-existing stories first so we can make the right changes, at the right time, for the right reasons.

Second, when a situation doesn't go as planned, it's good to hear the story. To be fair, if you talked with any of the teams I have led over the years, you might find out that I sometimes equated "stories" with "excuses" and that I didn't tolerate excuses well. But as a leader, we have to know the difference between the two. As I progressed in my career, I began to see "excuses" as the items that were repeated or reasonably foreseeable. All else, were stories and, despite my frustration that we didn't meet a goal, objective, timeline, etc., I needed to listen to them.

Let's find the stories around us, and be willing to listen to them!