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Once upon a time

“Alford, you’re a retard and you’ll achieve nothing in life.” The words of my school maths teacher, Mr Sherwood.

When I stood up in class to read, a twitch would erupt in my left eye.

And when I summoned the courage to audition for the BBC aged 21, my self-image was non-existent. 

Why am I sharing such personal information with you?

Simple, stories matter! They endear you to others. And, in business, stories are vehicles for building TRUST.

Are you wearing a suit of armour? One thing I’ve learned in 22 years coaching is most leaders shy away from stories. Especially telling personal ones.

I get it, it’s understandable. 

Yet failing to tell a story keeps you one dimensional. NO heart, soul or beliefs. Closed off and boring.

Of course, it’s easier to rely on sharing a mountain of facts. You know, always spewing out a Tsunami of statistics. Business like yes, unlikely to inspire your people at the annual Strategy Conference or ignite your best customers.

For many years I made the same mistake. My flawed thinking said, “Who wants to hear my back story?” Just get on with the business. 

As Sir Richard Branson said: “Leaders who talk only about their victories are boring.”

And the former Dragons Den star and top businessman, James Caan said on LinkedIn: “It’s good for leaders to show they’ve made mistakes…it empowers others…and it shows the people you lead it’s okay to make mistakes.”

Get Vulnerable in 2020

When the best leaders communicate they reveal a little bit about themselves. Our PM Boris Johnson does it regularly. Theresa May didn’t. President Obama did it often. Do you recall him crying in public?

The truth is, and it’s borne out by scientific research at Harvard University, Cornell Uni and others; leaders who desire to influence others, use the power of story.

Let’s throw away the corporate mask

The back story of any leader is a powerful magnet for motivating others. 

We all started at the bottom. The journey up the ladder brings highs and lows, mistakes and victories. What’s wrong with sharing those life-learning lessons?

I bet your staff would love to hear how you became an MD. Imagine how your employees would react when you share how you overcame errors on the way to business leadership. Of course, you fill in the errors with the lessons and learning points gathered along the way.

Did you know, Nike’s top leaders are called Brand story-tellers? 

Every year at their annual conference leaders relive the history of their brand. They retell their founders’ story and relate it to Nike’s values today. To do so they follow a simple 3 Act formula. [I’ll share the 3 Acts with you another time.]

I’ll leave you with this point: you’re refining your strategy for 2020. And you’re tweaking your vision for next year too.

Tap into the power of storytelling in this year to build trust and protect your business.

To discover how relearning can help your executives call Susan on 0114 287 3170 or send an email to

Your Trusted Advisor
0114 287 3170

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