I am are a great believer in the power of the parable, the fable, the story, the case study. I use stories frequently in our talks, sessions and in our writing. When people hear an inspiring tale that they can visualise, it helps to remember the moral of the story, the lesson to be learned.
Fables and parables are hardly new
They have been an essential vehicle for imparting wisdom through the millennia. Today, they are becoming management tools. Howard Gardner, the author of “Changing Minds”, says that storytelling is the single most powerful tool in a leader’s toolkit.
Storytelling as a tool
Former World Bank executive turned author, Stephen Denning, agrees: “Storytelling is at the core of the significant activities of every modern corporation, as well as at the centre of everything we do in public and private life. The ability to tell the right story at the right time is emerging as an essential leadership skill to cope with, and get business results in the turbulent world of the 21st century.”
The Ant and the Elephant
Vince Poscente is a business strategist. With no previous racing experience, he reached the gold medal qualification round of the Olympic speed-skiing competition, just four years after deciding to compete. His book is a parable about harnessing the power of the subconscious. Adir, an overly conscious ant, and his partner Elgo, a stubborn and instinctual subconscious elephant, must work as a single creature in order to reach the Oasis, their vision of paradise in the African savannah.
Go for the heart
The message of the metaphor is that adjusting our own behaviour as a means to motivate others can be as frustrating as an ant trying to convince an elephant to change its ways. So, should leaders abandon the intellectual approach to persuading employees, customers and suppliers – and use stories that touch the heart instead?