Finding Stories That Inspire

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A good story can offer critical business insights and motivate your employees, but how can you find these telling anecdotes?

In his book “Lead with a Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives that Captivate, Convince, and Inspire,” author Paul Smith offers a number of ways you can find instructive tales and use your experiences to educate your workforce. He urges readers not to hide behind PowerPoint: Stories resonate, not slides and numbers without context. Some tips from Smith’s work:

Challenge the assumptions of your audience to create powerful and lasting stories.

Be honest about your failures. Sharing your struggles conveys a sense of humility.

Focus on what’s happening around you. Take note when you learn something in an unexpected way.

Probe your past. What’s the toughest problem you ever solved? What’s the best working relationship you ever had?

Collect stories. Don’t be bashful about asking your employees for their stories.

It’s OK to borrow. Good stories from magazines, books or the Web can make great examples. Just be sure to give credit where it’s due.

Adapted from Ten Ways to Tell Great Leadership Stories at CIO Insight.