How to Use the Power of Story to Influence Others

Are you having a hard time inspiring your team to be more productive?

Individuals may represent much of the accomplishment of ministries at your church, but the real work of ministry is often done through teams. Whether a staff team comprised of full and part-time employees or a volunteer team comprised of various degrees of dedicated members, teams are the backbone of church ministry. And yet, most leaders at one time or another are frustrated by the lack of progress of the team toward accomplishing their assigned task.

To inspire and encourage the teams you lead to get the job done, tell stories.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Orange Revolution, by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton

The Orange Revolution is a groundbreaking guide to building high-performance teams. Research by the authors shows that breakthrough success is guided by a particular breed of high-performing team that generates its own momentum—an engaged group of colleagues in the trenches, working passionately together to pursue a shared vision. Their research also shows that only 20 percent of teams are working anywhere near this optimal capacity. How can your team become one of them?

The authors have determined a key set of characteristics displayed by members of breakthrough teams, and have identified a set of rules great teams live by, which generate a culture of positive teamwork and lead to extraordinary results.

The Orange Revolution provides a simple and powerful step-by-step guide to taking your team to the breakthrough level, igniting the passion and vision to bring about an Orange Revolution.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Authors Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton have created a framework for developing breakthrough teams called “The Orange Revolution.” The Orange Revolution is depicted as a journey to breakthrough result, a journey that places the relationships among team members as a critical component. As these relationships evolve over time, it’s only natural that momentum slows down and the productiveness of the team begins to wane

The people on your teams are overwhelmed with information, and in your attempt to help motivate them to move forward, you may be inadvertently contributing to the slowdown. Already confused and overloaded, they assume that your added request will only make thing worse.

Enter the story.

Stories are the most powerful delivery tool for information – more powerful and enduring than any other art form. In the land of complex reality, story is king. Story makes sense of chaos and gives people a plot. Stories can help people who are stuck become unstuck.

There are no guarantees that using story to motivate your team will come out the way you want. But story, on the average, works much better than telling your team “this is the way it’s going to be.”

Story is like a computer app you load into someone’s mind so they can play it using their own input. The best stories play over and over and create the outcomes that fit your goals and ensure that your team keeps moving forward.

Great leaders use story to express their passion and illustrate, illuminate, and inspire their team to greatness itself.

When you want to influence others, there is no tool more powerful than story.

Teams that are focused on wow results have a charming habit of telling stories that exemplify what they are trying to achieve.

Great teams create a narrative. As teams succeed, they tell their stories again and again. They are partly their history, but they also explain to others who they are and what they do.

Breakthrough teams tell stories frequently and with passion. It is a secret ingredient of their success. The power of their stories is in the specificity and vividness, which are the very elements that make them memorable. They get repeated – typically with the same enthusiasm in which they are told.

Stories are vital in helping individuals understand how world-class results are achieved and in making the possibility of doing so believable. Such tales have a way of perpetuating success. The listener retells the story, and more important, internalizes its message and becomes part of the story.

Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, The Orange Revolution

A NEXT STEP

As you use stories with your teams, you will be using a mixture of credibility, evidence and data, and emotional appeal. You cannot persuade through logic alone, or even logic supported by your credibility. You must persuade your team through the use of emotional appeals.

Look back to a recent story you told your team. Categorize the story into the three areas mentioned above: credibility, logic, and emotional appeal. How does the ratio of emotional appeal stack up to the rest of the story? If it is not at least twice as great as the next component, you need to rethink your content.

The next time you want to encourage your team to be more productive, weave a personal story from your own background into your conversation. The ability to tell a personal story is an essential trait of authentic leadership – people who inspire uncommon effort. By inviting your team on a personal journey, they will want to join you in your success.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 2-3, published November 2015


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

How to Cultivate Long-Term Commitment Within Your Team

Many teams today are not really teams at all – organizationally, structurally, and motivationally they are not set up to work as individual parts of a larger, unified whole. Often they reflect outdated organizational charts that have little to do with current reality. There are times when a leader realizes their team is actually a collection of individuals who are looking out for themselves. Left in this state, a team can actually become a divisive and damaging cancer to the organization.

Is it little wonder, then, that leaders seek help in cultivating commitment within their teams? The problem isn’t necessarily with the team members or leaders themselves, but what the team is being asked to do: work together without any larger sense of organizational direction or purpose.

If your team needs a boost in commitment, consider taking the following action.

Solution: Create a robust culture where people buy in.

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THE QUICK SUMMARY – All  In, by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton

In the highest-performing teams and companies, managers create a “culture of belief,” following seven essential steps of leadership.
To have any hope of succeeding as a manager, you need to get your people all in.

Whether you manage the smallest of teams or a multi-continent organization, you are the owner of a work culture and few things will have a bigger impact on your performance than getting your people to buy into your ideas and your cause and to believe what they do matters.

Bestselling authors, Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, answer the most overlooked leadership questions of our day: Why are some managers able to get their employees to commit wholeheartedly to their culture and give that extra push that leads to outstanding results? And how can managers at any level build and sustain a profitable, vibrant work-group culture of their own?

All In is a vital resource which will empower leaders everywhere to inspire a new level of commitment and performance.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Organizational consultants, Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, used the results of a massive study of over 303,000 employees from 25 high-performance companies around the world to identify three characteristics that were present in every organization.

They found that team members who were engaged, enabled, and energized provided their organizations with a significant increase in performance.

Team members with high E + E + E characteristics were not only committed to the organization, but were enabled to constantly look for areas where they could add value to the organization, and demonstrate the energy to follow through on their commitments.

If your culture is clear, positive, and strong, then your people will buy into your ideas and cause, and most important, will believe what they do matters, and that they can make a difference.

In the highest performing cultures, leaders not only create high levels of engagement – manifested in a strong attachment to the organization and a willingness to give extra effort – but they also create environments that support productivity and performance, in which team members feel enabled. And finally, they help team members feel a greater sense of well-being and drive at work, in other words, people feel energized.

Engaged – Team members understand how their work benefits the larger organization, and have a clear understanding of how they are responsible and accountable for real results. They are also able to see the value of their contributions to the organization’s larger mission.

Enabled – The organization supports team members with the right tools and training, and leaders spend 75 percent of their time coaching and walking the floor to ensure that team members can navigate the demands of their responsibilities.

Energized – Leaders maintain feelings of well-being and high levels of energy through daily encouragement, helping team members balance work and home life, and recognizing individual contributions.

– Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, All In

A NEXT STEP

The authors of All In identified the three drivers of Engaged, Enabled, and Energized as necessary to create a strong organizational culture. Not only that, but any single driver without the other two will not produce exceptional results.

Use the following exercise at your next team meeting to determine the roadblocks your team may be encountering in trying to achieve the Engaged + Enabled + Energized goal.

Consider Engaged, Enabled, and Energized as destinations that your team needs to reach in order to be successful. For each of the three destinations, discuss the following questions:

  • What roadblocks are keeping our team from reaching our destination?
  • Who put them there, or keeps them there?
  • Who is most equipped to move each of them?
  • Which of our values assists in moving this roadblock? (To learn more about how working values or missional motivators define culture click here.)
  • What does the road to each destination look like with the roadblock gone?

Develop a plan to dismantle each of the roadblocks identified. Report on the progress monthly until all roadblocks have been cleared.

CLOSING THOUGHT

While all too often teams are “teams” in name only, individual commitment to a larger whole is an integral part of the success of any organization.

By creating a robust culture, church leaders can help their teams maintain commitment and accomplish their Great Commission call.


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

You can find out more information about SUMS Remix here. Subscribe to SUMS Remix here.

Is It Time for an “Orange Revolution” in Your Organization?

If you asked who invented incandescent electric light, and you answered Thomas Edison, you’d be right – and you’d be wrong.Edison lightbulb

On October 22, 1879, the remarkable bulb dreamed up by Edison, drawn by lead experimenter Charles Batchelor, mathematically proved by Francs Upton, built by craftsmen John Kruesi and Ludwig Boehm, and tested by experimenters John Lawson, Martin Force, and Francis Jehl, burned for thirteen and a half hours.

Darkness had been illuminated forever.

The revolution that Thomas Edison wrought was the product of a team, in spite of how history books tell the story. We love the idea of a lone genius, the mastermind, the hero. We’re indoctrinated from an early age with the single-achiever ideal in school. For a fifth-grader, it’s easy to say Edison = light bulbs.

The reality is very different; geniuses build great teams.

Edison – one of the most brilliant minds in the world – accepted that he alone did not possess all the answers; but together, his team usually did.

What would you do to have a high-performing team that generates its own momentum – an engaged group of colleagues in the trenches, working passionately together to pursue a shared vision?

How about starting a revolution?

orange revolution 1For centuries the color Orange has been connected with revolutionary events. Most recent are the election events in the Ukraine, but there have also been Orange uprising in Ireland, China, England, and the Netherlands.

These revolutions signaled a transition – a spirited quest driven by people to improve the world around them.

Why shouldn’t your organization possess that same passion when it comes to creating, strengthening, and enlarging the teams that serve?

You can begin an Orange Revolution in the hearts of your team members and leaders focusing on conquering barriers, expectations, and stagnation.

Welcome to the revolution.

I will be leading The Orange Revolution at WFX in Dallas October 2-4. For an overview of WFX, go here. To learn more about the education and training available, go here.

Stay tuned for more on The Orange Revolution coming soon!

What’s In Your Leadership Garden?

The planting season is in full bloom across the Carolinas.

What do you think about carrots for your garden?

In this case, it’s not the orange root vegetable long-rumored to help your eyesight. And it’s not a plot of freshly turned dirt in your backyard.

The “carrot” in this case is from the carrot and stick idiom, the origins of which involve dangling a carrot from a stick in front of a work animal to keep him moving forward.

Actually, a much nicer picture is that advanced by recognition consultants Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton in their best-selling series of Carrot books.

Carrot Principle Accelerator

How about this:

  • Seed – Set clear goals

  • Plant – Communicate openly

  • Nurture – Build trust

  • Weed – Hold everyone accountable

  • Harvest – Recognition that leads to acceleration of team performance and engagement

I don’t have a green thumb, but I do believe Gostick and Elton have hit “pay dirt” with this concept…

An ongoing series exploring the power of teamwork

Inspired by:

Midnight Lunch, written by Sarah Miller Caldicott

The Orange Revolution, written by Adrian Gostick & Chester Elton

Creating We, written by Judith Glaser

Thomas Edison Didn’t Invent the Light Bulb

If you asked who invented incandescent electric light, and you answered Thomas Edison, you’d be right – and you’d be wrong.

The revolution that Edison wrought was the product of a team.

When we call Thomas Edison to mind, our first thought is of a brilliant inventor and innovator whose creations transformed modern life. We often think of him toiling away in a laboratory all by himself, long into the wee hours of the morning.

Tempting as it is to sustain this image of Edison, it is inaccurate.

We love the idea of a lone genius, the mastermind, the hero. From an early age, we’re indoctrinated with the single-achiever idea in school. Our textbooks boil things down to their simplest form, and for a fifth-grader, it’s easy to say that Edison created the light bulb.

The reality is very different. Here’s what geniuses do:

They build great teams.

Thomas Edison, one of the most brilliant minds in the world, accepted that he alone did not possess all the answers, but together, his team usually did.

Never intimidated by other great minds, Edison actively sought out men with a broad base of knowledge, a passion for learning, impeccable character, and a commitment to excellence.

Thomas Edison viewed collaboration as the beating heart of his laboratories, a sustaining resource that fueled the knowledge assets of his sprawling innovation empire.

Maybe it’s time our organizations rediscovered the truths of teamwork and collaboration that Edison used so powerfully.

An ongoing series exploring the power of teamwork

Inspired by:

Midnight Lunch, written by Sarah Miller Caldicott

The Orange Revolution, written by Adrian Gostick & Chester Elton

Creating We, written by Judith Glaser

The Basic Four of Leadership: # 4, Accountability

When I make a mistake, I’m recognized 100 percent of the time; when I do something great, I’m not recognized 99 percent of the time.

 – employee in the hotel industry

A 200,000-person study by the Jackson Organization confirmed that managers who achieve enhanced business results are significantly more likely to be seen by their employees as strong in the Basic Four areas of leadership:

  • Goal Setting
  • Communication
  • Trust
  • Accountability

Authors Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton used that study as a foundation in their book The Carrot Principle, adding on the accelerator of frequent and effective recognition to illustrate that the relationship between recognition and improved business results is both highly predictable and proven to work.

As in all good things, you must start with the basics – and here’s # 4:

Holding People Accountable

The employee quoted at the top of the page brings the issue of accountability into sharp relief: there’s a fine line between mistakes and failures, and it takes a great leader to know the difference.

Many well-known organizations have developed awards for intelligent mistakes. They realize that in an atmosphere of speed and innovation, team members need to feel safe to adapt, innovate, and experiment. That means, of course, that some mistakes will be made – and that’s all right. In these cultures, part of holding people accountable is celebrating mistakes that were worth being made.

In a culture that has equilibrium between accountability and celebrating success, recognition is frequent and meaningful and reinforces the notion of accountability. Keep in mind that great leaders don’t just hold their people accountable in formal ways – in many cases, you might not even know you’re being held accountable.

It’s just that you don’t want to let your leader and the team down.

That is a home run in accountability.

Goal setting, communication, trust, and accountability. These are the Basic Four of effective leadership. Alone, each one can move you quite a way toward good results, but when a leader is even somewhat competent with the Basic Four and then adds the accelerator of Recognition and Honor to each, leadership effectiveness soars.

And that will be the topic of a future post!

Adapted from The Carrot Principle by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton

Part 5 of a series

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

The Basic Four of Leadership: # 3 – Trust

The moment a leader recognizes someone on their team for a contribution, the trust meter shoots off the scale.

 – Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton

A 200,000-person study by the Jackson Organization confirmed that managers who achieve enhanced business results are significantly more likely to be seen by their employees as strong in the Basic Four areas of leadership:

  • Goal Setting
  • Communication
  • Trust
  • Accountability

Authors Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton used that study as a foundation in their book The Carrot Principle, adding on the accelerator of frequent and effective recognition to illustrate that the relationship between recognition and improved business results is both highly predictable and proven to work.

As in all good things, you must start with the basics.

Building Trust

Trust is often viewed as more of an interpersonal quality than a leadership skill. That’s a mistake, since it turns out that trust is a central concept in organizational health and growth.

In an organization where leaders are trusted, there is a greater level of team investment. When an employee believes a manager has his best interest at heart, it motivates him to give his bet to his work and the organization, which creates overall higher commitment.

Louis Barnes, professor emeritus at Harvard Business School, describes the trust phenomenon as the theory of reciprocity: in short, people respond in kind to the way they are treated. For leaders who want to build trust within their organization, this means respecting and listening to team members, treating them fairly, and worrying about the success of their team more than their own success.

A leader who is trusted displays the following characteristics:

  • Publicly owning up to his mistakes
  • Keeping her word and commitments
  • Surrounding himself with people who can be trusted
  • Consistently taking the high road
  • Refusing to participate in any level of deception
  • Actively contributing to the positive reputation of the organization

This is an impressive list of qualities – maybe even a little intimidating! A good place to start the process of building trust is by becoming more visible to your team. Experience has shown that the single act of getting out of your office and mingling with team members is a simple solution to a very common trust problem.

Trusting relationships with your team can begin with leaders’ being more visible and available. It’s a place to start – something that will be noticed and appreciated by the people on your team.

Next: Accountability

Adapted from The Carrot Principle by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton

Part 4 of a series

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3