Anyone who has had any form of social contact in the last five years, even if it is only through a glance at the newspaper, has definitely noticed: We live in times of massive upheaval.
How and what we work and what we will call work at all, how the economy as a whole is developing, what the climate is doing to us as a result of what we are doing to the climate, how the media work and what the media are in the first place, everything that slips through any quality control as politics these days, how we deal with each other and how we should deal with each other, what is becoming of Europe and of the world, how we Google everything and know less and less, how everything is constantly becoming more and more, and everything at the same time and thus totally confusing ... hm ...
We live in disturbing times and can only be sure of one thing: Everything will remain completely different. Digital transformation, innovation, disruption - if that doesn't make you dizzy already, I don't know what will.
But who will take care of all that, please? Who is going to manage all this?
Manager guaranteed not.
Managers are in the world to do things right.
But we need people who do the right things. Real leaders, that is, otherwise it won't work.
The kind of guys who find George Bernard Shaw's sentence awesome (for Generation Y: crass, for Generation Z: celebrate): "But you see and say, Why? But I dream and say, Why not?" And who have then consistently internalised the guiding principle of the Clint Eastwood School of Entrepreneurship : "We ride into town. The rest will follow. "* You can't manoeuvre a stationary ship.
We need people who don't want a career, but those who have a mission and can inspire others for it. In any case, something else has not worked until today, before something has stirred. We need people who lead the way.
Where is the front and how do I get there?
But what is the best way to go about it? How do you do it? How do you inspire people for what is needed?
- Forget facts. Facts don't hit the target. They hit the brain, we have to get into the heart, because that's where enthusiasm comes from. And there are no facts about the future anyway.
- Don't talk about change, that also leads nowhere. Because there are only two things that everyone else can do better than you: save and change. We don't want to change, but we always like to have something new.
- Awaken the longing in the hearts of the people.
Which brings us to the topic: Story is the perfect guide to the future. I certainly don't know of a better one. With Story you can awaken longing and enthusiasm. With Story you create a desire for something new.
Leaders master story as their most important and powerful leadership tool and use it wisely and respectfully. Because, as with most tools, the person using it determines what happens to it. With a hammer you can hit a nail or a person on the head.
If we take an alert look in the rear-view mirror of history, we discover many well-known leaders who are united by their unique ability to captivate people with a common story, to motivate them, to set them in motion. For better or for worse, this should by no means be overlooked here, because the inner mechanics of story have a neutral effect. Whether Jesus of Nazareth, Martin Luther King, Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, John F. Kennedy or Adolf Hitler ... pioneers, visionaries, entrepreneurs, politicians, demagogues, leaders and seducers - they all know this art, often unconsciously. Strictly speaking, nothing else has ever really worked.
One person, a small group leads the way and wins the others to go along.
This is how and no other way we can actively use upheavals: in our lives, in our company, in society, in the world. In this way, everyone will be better off tomorrow than they are today. Or perhaps only the day after tomorrow ...
Who is your opponent? And where?
With the story mechanic "We are the many, the morally superior, dominated by a powerful elitist minority", you can demand "America First" like Donald Trump or introduce the Macintosh to the market like Applein 1984. A small group of righteous people fighting for liberation from the bondage of the all-dominating Big Brother IBM. The good guys against the ruling power of the elite.
A common opponent is an important mobilisation factor. This is never(!) the competition, even if it is sometimes the symbolic figure of the metaphor for it. The opponent does not always have to be an explicit enemy in the narrow sense. That would be thinking too short, actually not thinking at all. Opponents can, for example, also be - seemingly - abstract forces such as complicated processes, or long waiting times, or the inner bastard ... In any case, heroes always need opponents they can defeat, antagonistic forces. And not at all infrequently the antagonist is hidden in oneself ...
If you want to move people, in whatever field, whether as a motivator, speaker, salesperson, campaigner, leader, whether in marketing, HR, PR or politics - write your heart and soul on every wall: It's the story, stupid . It's not about storytelling, it's about storysharing - about sharing common values and aspirations of brand and audience!
Where is the common longing? Where is the common goal? Where is the multiplication factor?
And because a text about leadership and story cannot do without the official quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry on this matter - here it is: "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up men to procure wood, assign tasks and divide up the work, but teach the men to long for the wide, endless sea". The story of ... freedom! The opponent, the antagonistic force, is therefore naturally called: unfreedom.
A little more about this here.
By the way: Managers can theoretically also be leaders. And if they are not only theoretically, that would even be very practical! In the same way, you don't have to have a company to be an entrepreneur. Someone came up with the term intrapreneur for this. Ride into town!
What does Clint Eastwood read?
And another thing*: The Clint Eastwood principle of action is recommended by the great Wolf Lotter, who always provides the focus topic article in brand eins and wrote the illuminating polemic for barreire-free thinking entitled "Innovation" . A handy book that fits and belongs in every saddlebag. Recommended reading!
Story is a question of attitude and an indispensable necessity for successful communication anyway, but for a successful company, for the existence of a brand as well and for content marketing even more so. This is the way to the future.
Regardless of whether it's a global corporation, SME or EPU - every person, every brand, every company has a story and stands for something. Or for nothing, because you can't have no story. In the worst - and quite frequent - case, however, only one topic remains: the price. That is usually the last chapter.
Or, as my grandmother, old Story Dudette, put it to Dirty Harry for a fistful of dollars, "No Story. No Glory."
P.S.: Every bookseller is happy about a purchase and gets this and every other book in no time at all - sometimes the hand is turned around two or three times ... The reward for this: There is always a lot to discover during a visit to the bookshop, and I am also happy about relevant tips from you as a story insider - not only from the non-fiction & specialist book corner.