The Skill of Storytelling Featuring Doug Stanton
Angie Morgan, October 30, 2017
A good story motivates, moves, and calls to action. Storytelling, in fact, is a powerful business skill. Whereas facts and data are easily forgotten, a story captures the imagination and is remembered for years to come.
On the most recent episode of Leadership Conversations, I was privileged to sit down with New York Times Bestselling author Doug Stanton to hear how he weaves together his stories into expertly crafted historical nonfiction works. It’s both an art and a science, involving inspiration and structure. He shared a few ways to incorporate storytelling skills into your leadership practice:
- Listen with a nonjudgmental ear: Listening isn’t a skill that is often taught in training or courses, but there is a big difference between listening and hearing. Active listeners are engaged in the conversation and seeking to hear the meaning behind the message.
- Ask questions: Asking questions, even ones that sound “dumb,” allows you to learn. It creates a sense of trust when you demonstrate curiosity and are upfront about the gaps in your knowledge.
- Build trusting relationships: Building relationships and sharing ideas is an essential part of service-based leadership. When you are open to new perspectives, it allows others to be more forthcoming, engaged, and invested in mutual goals.
- Be articulate. As a leader, you define a vision. You must then inspire people to act in ways that may, at first, seem unfamiliar or unnatural to them on the journey to that vision.
So, armed with these skills, start telling stories. Too often, leaders act as information brokers. We take in information, then process, translate, add to, and subtract from that information. Use stories to celebrate and illustrate heroes, hope, struggle, accomplishment, and perseverance.
To read more from Doug Stanton, his compelling books include The Odyssey of Echo Company and In Harm’s Way. Be sure to also check out the upcoming film release of 12 Strong, based on his book Horse Soldiers.