Effective Leaders Tell Stories of Their Everyday Heroes
Leaders always need to communicate, and in challenging times, even more frequently. I don’t know how you judge a company, but most likely, to a large extent, it is the same way I do: by the interactions you have with the company’s ordinary, everyday heroes. Those who open your taxi door, check you into the hotel, or welcome you with a smile for a 6:30 am breakfast.
As an executive speech coach, I often challenge my clients to find examples of everyday heroes who embody the values of the company or simply exhibit common decency.
I could regale you with stories from my client’s presentations of everyday heroes who came up with ideas that saved or made their companies huge amounts of money. Many years ago, I interviewed a wonderful woman who worked for Sprint, Nancy Albertson. I doubt if she remembers me; I never will forget her. During my research process for the speech, I asked the conference chair if she had an example of someone in her company who had come up with a good idea. She told me, “Nancy Albertson came up with an idea that has already make us $17,000,000.” When I called Nancy, I asked, “Just for my notes, what is your title?” She said, “Patricia, I am just a secretary. I guess you could call me a big gal with big ideas.” As she talked about her idea, she said, ‘You know, Patricia, I am the only person in the history of Sprint who received a second award for the same idea. It is a lot tougher to come up with ideas that make a company money rather than ones that save money.”
I was curious about the winner’s acknowledgement and reward. My curiosity overcame my British reserve. I asked, “Just between us girls, don’t you ever fantasize, ‘What if they gave me 1%?’” Her reply was a lot more gracious than my question.
“Patricia, we do fine. It is such an honor and a privilege to work for a company that actually cares what I think.” In your leadership presentations, do you include stories of YOUR everyday heroes?
Good luck with your communications.