Leadership and Stories

In 2003, Harvard Business School interviewed screenwriting coach Robert McKee. He talks about why it is essential for a leader to be a skilled storyteller in order to successfully persuade members of her team to work toward common goals. Particularly in the nonprofit sector, a leader should be able to convince potential donors and funders that his organization is worthy of receiving their financial support.

Cognitive research has shown that the human mind assembles the bits and pieces of an experience into a story in order to understand and remember. We tend to forget lists and bullet points. Instead, human desire and struggle are what stay with us.

Why does it make a world of difference to go beyond rhetoric and present your case in a story? According to McKee:

Essentially, a story expresses how and why life changes. You want to display the struggle between expectation and reality in all its nastiness. It demands vivid insight and storytelling skill to present an idea that packs enough emotional power to be memorable.

Our team at Barkada Circle has worked closely with leaders of nonprofits, particularly by facilitating their board retreats and strategic meetings. We realize that storytelling is a powerful catalyst that brings together key stakeholders of an organization to the same page. Stories reveal shared values and foster deeper understanding of common goals. The outcome is a shift in the collective consciousness of the organization to create a shared narrative about the mission that has more clarity and focus. From here, leaders can take their story and develop a more compelling message that resonates with their intended audience.

Here’s what some of our clients had to say about their experience at a Barkada Circle® storytelling workshop for board members and nonprofit leaders:

Pon helps unleash the full potential for every not-for-profit board member to succeed in fundraising as powerful storytellers.  As we reframe the work of fundraising – from ‘asking for money’ to relationship building – Pon’s work with board members gives them the information, the tools, and the confidence they need to fulfill this essential role as powerful storytellers.

Otto Reinisch
Director, Organizational Development

Episcopal Charities

Pon brought a much needed fresh perspective to our annual Board Retreat.   For a group of volunteers to come together and work effectively it is important to understand everyone’s motivation.  The use of storytelling as a facilitation tool allowed the perfect forum for our team to get to know each other and develop the common “story” for our association. Pon was a delight to work with during the planning process and really listened to what our needs were.  He then came prepared to deliver a targeted program which was well received by all the attendees.  I have to admit that I was skeptical about taking such an “out of the box” approach for our retreat but I’m so glad I took a chance.

Bill Kubiak, CSEP
2013-2014 President


© 2011-2014 Barkada Creative LLC

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