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How Storytelling Builds Next-Generation Leaders

In recent years, the need to develop next-generation leaders — people who can translate strategy into results and core values into day-to-day behaviors — has become the paramount challenge for many CEOs and their top teams. But even though this issue has risen to the top of the agenda, most executives would be the first to admit that they are failing at the effort. And that’s a significant admission, because they would also concur that their leadership inventory” is woefully insufficient. For more than a decade, Douglas A. Ready, founder of the Massachusetts-based International Consortium for Executive Development Research, has led a series of large-scale studies to identify the most pressing leadership-development challenges in more than 40 global companies. He has found that storytelling by a company’s senior executives is a powerful way of developing new leaders.

Although it may sound simple, storytelling in a corporate setting is hard work that requires careful planning and preparation; it most certainly does not involve “winging it” or telling war stories about past successes.

The author identifies and explains the five ingredients of effective stories. He then uses a case study to explain how a global player in the financial-services arena used a storytelling initiative to align its high-potential employees with the company’s strategy and values. Finally, he outlines how top teams can implement a storytelling leadership program.

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