Dianna Booher

Dianna Booher works with organizations to improve their productivity through clear communication and with individuals to increase their impact by a stronger executive presence.

Clark, my client, stopped by our office unexpected:  “I have good news and bad news. The good news first. . . . A couple of partners and I just bought a small telecom—a spinoff of the division I managed before we all got laid off.”

“Sounds like great news,”  I said.

“Maybe. If we can make a go of it.”

“The bad news?”

I definitely made my share of bad hires in the early days as a business owner: The salesperson who never made a sale. The admin who stole our software for her sideline business. The marketing rep who continually fell asleep at her desk and did her personal errands while out of the office on “company business.”

As most parents have learned, late-night conversation around the campfire can open communication lines. Consider those romantic strolls with your first love when you shared your deepest secrets and highest hopes for the future? Or how about those laps around the gym or through the hallways at school with your best friend, sharing what happened on the weekend?

Likewise, leaders have learned that walking loosens the tongue of their team members. Walking and talking go together like leadership and strategy.  How so?

Could you be confusing that favorite story with an anecdote?  Before I mention why it matters, you’re probably wondering why so many blogs and books in the last few years have urged you to learn to tell a great story. Here’s why.

Stories make things stick. CEOs, entertainers, professional speakers, trainers, and leaders have learned that data, marketing messages, instructions, procedures, or just about any kind of information burrows into the brain better and stays longer when wrapped in a good story.

Keith, CEO of a Fortune 500 financial organization, called with an intriguing project—one I’ve never been asked to repeat elsewhere, but one with fascinating results.

The Project

The CEO wanted to know how much I could discover about a person’s leadership style from their writing. “I don’t know; I’ve never had occasion to test my theories,” I told him, quite reluctant to take on what already sounded like an oddball way to lose a good client. He listened as I pointed out that someone might be a great leader, but just an incompetent writer and vice versa—how they might be an eloquent writer, but a lousy leader.

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