Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Leadership & Storytelling Part 10 of Many...

We start our detailed look at story-based communication model for leaders by looking at the Interaction Ring.

The Interaction Ring with its three skills describes how we use stories to connect with others and communicate. The three skills are:

1. Selecting
2. Telling
3. Modeling

This is the tip of the iceberg. When people think of storytelling skills these are the ones that come rushing to mind.

The Interaction Ring contains the competencies that are most noticeable by outside observers. Selecting, Telling and Modeling describe how we use stories to communicate. In actuality, these are the least important competencies. They demonstrate mastery of the competencies found in the Core and Process Ring without which the competencies in the Interaction Ring amount too little more than showmanship. The Interaction Ring is the icing on the cake. All the other competencies have to be working in concert in order for us to be effective communicators and learners regardless of how clever we are in selecting stories, how theatrically we tell them, what behaviors we model or analogies we leverage to explain ourselves.


One of the questions I get asked the most is, “how do you know what story to tell?” It’s an excellent question. Of course the setting of where a story is to be told has a lot to do with it. Stepping back to do an audience analysis will be instrumental in guiding you. For example, it is more straightforward when you are giving a presentation at a conference in front of a large audience than if you are attempting to select a story on the fly in an informal conversation. When you have advance information about who the people are, why they are coming, and a sense of what you think they want to get out of your talk than it is easy to use your preparation time to scan a wide assortment of story options. However, when we do not have the luxury of planning, selecting a story becomes more challenging. In these extemporaneous settings you must rely on the “listening” competencies of the Core, and the Indexing competency from the Process Ring. How to select a story is a function of our index.

Here's a complimentary copy of a tool I developed to help leaders select stories.

Complimentary Tool for Selecting Stories: Click Here...

We'll be continuing our exploration of the Interaction Ring and the two other skills in the next two blog entries.

All of these skills can be measured with the only assessment in the world that measured story-based communication skills (recognized in 2008 with an HR Leadership Award from the Asia Pacific HRM Congress).

Story-based Communication Assessment: Click Here...

I also have a book of self-development exercises to work on these skills with yourself or others. All of these exercises that map to the nine skills of the competency model

Book of Self-Development Exercises: Click Here...

I also recommend my book, Once Upon a Time: Using Story-Based Activities to Develop Breakthrough Communication Skills. It contains a collection of group process activities aligned with these story-based communication skills.

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