When Leaders Should NOT Tell Stories

Beauty and Danger: Stories Shouldn’t Live in Cages

These days, leaders are frequently urged to tell stories to provide direction, navigate a crisis, or sell the next big thing. Yes, stories are powerful, but they shouldn’t be used recklessly or with ill intent.

Jo Tyler of Penn State makes the point in her amazing TEDxPSU talk that stories have a life of their own, whether we tell them or not.

Sharing the story of a leader she knew who used a story carelessly and ended up causing damage in his organization, Tyler makes the point that sometimes it’s better to take a step back, and listen for the authentic stories around us, instead of relying on “caged stories” all the time.

By the way, it seems like the recent expansion of the TEDx series has diluted the quality of some of the talks, in my opinion. This is one of the great ones! No matter what your professional role is—if communication skills are at all important to you and your success—check out this talk. Tyler’s storytelling is engaging, and the message will give you food for thought about your own communication.


Thanks to Karen Dietz for alerting me when she posted Tyler’s video on her Just Story It curated ScoopIt site.

Posted in Communication, Leadership, Story Tagged with: , ,
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