Lessons from the Land Trust Alliance Rally 2014: Storytelling and Engaged Listening

Recently I delivered a workshop entitled, “Using Coaching Skills to Build Staff Leadership” at the Land Trust Alliance Rally 2014 in Providence, RI.

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I arrived not knowing that the keynote speaker for the plenary was Andy Goodman.  I heard Andy Goodman speak in 2008 in a small room at the CompassPoint Nonprofit Day so I was thrilled to hear him again talk about Building your Story as a nonprofit.  This was a slightly different experience with 1,800 people, however still engaging and catalyzing.

Change the story, change the world

A few of Goodman’s key messages in framing your organization’s story:

  • Numbers numb
  • Jargon jars
  • Stories get stored

“Stories get inside our brains and act like software. Change the story, change the world.”

He offered an easy structure to use to create our organization’s stories.

  1. Who is it about? (there has to be a protagonist)
  2. What is it about?
  3. What is the barrier? The more barriers the better, it draws people in!
  4. What does the protagonist do?
  5. And in the end… the moral, the call to action?

Golden Rules of Storytelling

The plenary flowed beautifully into the morning workshop that I attended by Heather Yandow of 3rd Space Studio entitled, “Telling Your Land Trust’s Story”.  This workshop gave participants the opportunity to write and practice their organization’s story.

Heather added her “Golden Rules” of Storytelling.

  1. Be clear about your audience
  2. It is not about you..but it is about somebody. (The protagonist)
  3. Drop the jargon
  4. Tell the truth
  5. Bring a tear to the listener’s eye (BTW, Goodman showed three video clips and they all nailed this one!)
  6. Make the “so what” clear

word-cloud-stories

Tell Your Organization’s Story

It was a inspiring learning lab and I was hoping that some of the participants that attended Heather’s workshop would attend my workshop on Coaching Skills because the interactive exercise in the workshop asks for participants to “Tell your organization’s story.”  Good fortune would have it that there were quite a few people attending my workshop that did have their story drafted and ready to tell.

Learn to Listen

Participants in my coaching workshop practiced listening- the foundational skill of coaching.  I asked them to work on mirroring, paraphrasing and drawing out the speaker.  Although it felt awkward to many, as learning any new skill does, it really raised the awareness about how well we practice fully engaged listening.

So what does listening and coaching have to do with building leadership?

Leadership is about motivating, inspiring, aligning and leveraging people’s talents.  Your ability to understand what talents your team members can contribute is enhanced by engaged listening.  Your ability to align and leverage the talents of your team members is enhanced by coaching skills.

Are you wondering how coaching and listening can build leadership throughout your organization? Give me a call, let’s chat about it!