We all have a story of how and why we lead. But very few tell it. Fewer yet understand the real power in that story. No wonder so few tell it in a powerful way. No wonder so few record that story in a book.
So the power is diminished and eventually lost. Isn’t there a way to leverage the power to lead in our stories?
Are Common Leadership Stories Powerful?
I recently watched a rerun of the 200th episode of the hit series, NCIS. Gibbs, the leader of the team and main character of the show, was tormented by mistakes he had made and opportunities that he believed he had let slip away. But in the process, he was overlooking the difference he had made in his team, the closure he brought to the victim’s families and the public safety he helped ensure. He felt he was simply doing his job.
But the story line for this episode pushes the point of his significance. He is confronted by ghosts of his past and propelled to reconsider the power he holds in the present and how to leverage that power in the future.
Like Gibbs, many of us are so focused on doing our job, performing our duties, that we overlook the hidden power in our leadership.
Why Don’t we Appreciate the Power of our Story?
We fail to appreciate our power in two different ways.
Gibbs isn’t egotistical. He doesn’t have time for the politics or posturing, but just focused on doing his job. No wonder he avoids medal presentation ceremonies, stores them in a drawer and often gives them away. He might be a bit abnormal in that respect.
Gibbs fails to appreciate the power of his story. He doesn’t want to hear the story and would never allow an avid follower and team member like Abby, Ducky or McGee to tell his story. But they would – frequently and fervently. If caught, he would tell them they had better things to do. In the process, he isn’t appreciating the power of that story in their lives.
Meanwhile, other leaders clamor for the limelight, seeking the accolades and priming for the promotions. They are the ones who prematurely propose writing their books, have too little to say and overvalue the power of their story.
Which one are you? Overvaluing or undervaluing the power in your story?
How can We Tell Those Stories?
Humble leaders, like Gibbs, have a hard time telling those powerful stories. Writing a book would probably never happen – unless someone else wrote it. That may be the case with your story – or a story of a leader you highly respect.
True humility makes telling your story and writing the book very difficult. Far too often, the story isn’t told and the book isn’t written but it needs to because it has tremendous power for those that hear and read it. It has the power to change their lives, enhance their leadership and make a bigger difference.
So what does it take?
In the episode, Gibbs had to come to the brink of death to see the power of his story. It took others showing him his own story. Sometimes leaders need other leaders or even their team members and followers to show them the power of their own story.
Maybe that is why the most powerful leadership stories are not autobiographies. The best stories are told by appreciative team members and followers because it is their lives that have been impacted.
What is the Power of Your Story?
Gibbs came to a life changing moment when he stopped to listen to his story. Mysteries were solved, answers provided and misunderstandings cleared up. Even a few demons were exercised by seeing his story from a different perspective.
- How would you benefit from stopping and listening to your story today?
- What power would you find in hearing your leaders telling it?
- What power would you find in hearing your team telling it?
- What power would you find in hearing your followers telling it?
3D POWER Tip of the Day: There is incredible power in listening to our own leadership story – then writing it.
(c) 2015 Murfield International, Inc.
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I am Dr. Loren Murfield and I work with aspiring and emerging leaders so they can leverage their power to do what followers and critics thought was impossible. This often involves working with them to write their stories. How could you leverage your leadership power by writing your story or the story of a favorite leader? Is it time to leave your legacy for your team? If so, contact me today.
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