Listen before speaking

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One of the things you need to know about storytelling is that it pivots around the storyteller. If the storyteller isn’t effective or credible, chances are your story won’t achieve its goals!

However, any storyteller knows that listening is an active experience, so it’s any storyteller’s job to create an experience that draws people in and allows them to discover a new truth for themselves.

The good news is that are probably great storytellers already inside your team. Those ‘telling the story’ can’t be just great speakers. They must from the team and have the trust, confidence, and love of the team. The ancient Greeks identified three attributes: Ethos, Logos, and Pathos (Credibility, Logic and Reason, and Emotional Connect) as the three pillars of persuasion; and this holds especially true for Leaders who want to tell ‘credible’ stories. Ultimately, whatever you weave as a story needs to be credible, logical, and have emotional appeal; and all this is about the ‘person’ telling the story.

The very same story told by two different people can have two very different impacts. So, be absolutely critical of WHO is telling the
story, and try and build ‘heroes’ who have actually built that credibility to tell the stories you want told.


Many stories have heroes in them. In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker defeated Darth Vader. In the Harry Potter book series, Harry defeated Voldemort. In classical literature, Hercules completed his ordeal. Steve Jobs, Anne Sullivan, Marie Curie, Jeff Bezos, Jane Goodall, Coco Chanel, and Elon Musk transformed themselves and overcame the demanding situations around them to succeed. Everybody responds well to a story in the hero’s journey format because they get to be the hero.

Vicariously, readers/listeners/participants can feel what the hero feels, long for what the hero wants, and celebrate their hero’s victory. The more the hero appears to be like them, the more enjoyment they find in the story – and the more impact there is on the individual reader. You probably already noticed this iconic storyteller’s truth. It’s imperative for leaders using stories not to make themselves, their companies, their brands, their services, or their products the hero of the story. Only the people who will be affected by the change should become the hero. Not making someone from the front-line the hero can only make the effort seem insincere in the eyes of those upon whom you hope to have the most significant impact.

Mike’s Rule: Never make yourself the hero, make only a front-line team member or a customer the hero in your story. After all, everything you do in your business is to create value for them. Focusing on your employees and customers first yields a powerful alignment that increases agility, speeds response, improves reputation, and increases profitability through natural efficiencies.

This article is part of Luminary Learning Solutions‘ Guru Guide. You can read the full guide here.


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