Powerful storytelling is the difference.
Jack and David were finalists for the same job. Both had relevant experience and equally impressive resumes. Following their final interviews, the executives who had met with both of them convened to evaluate each candidate separately.
Jack received high praise from the executives. He was smart, accomplished, and personable. But when the discussion turned to David, one of the executives got up from his seat and walked to the front of the room.
Looking across the conference room table he said,
“Okay, put your pencils down for this one. I just have to tell you about my interview with David.”
The room went silent in anticipation of what he was going to say. The last thing expected was the effect powerful storytelling could have.
“So, along with all the other stuff I usually ask in interviews, I decided to do something different. I flat out asked David to convince me that he was a strong motivator. He looked a little startled at first.”
“What do you mean?” David asked.
“C’mon,” the executive said. “A sales manager should be a good salesman. Surely you can sell yourself.”
He continued. “And with that, David looked down as he paused for a few seconds gathering his thoughts. And just as I was starting to think he was about to stumble, he spoke up.”
“I know that you need to develop your sales force,” David said. “And it only makes sense that you need someone who is a strong motivator. Can I tell you a little story?”
“Do whatever you want,” he answered. “Just convince me you know how to motivate people.”
“And so, he told me about a time when he had to deal with an employee whose performance was lacking. He explained how surprised he was to see this employee’s sales performance fall off from levels that were normally expected. He went on to tell me that he told this employee that he was very concerned.”
“I told him that I was concerned for the company,” David said. “But I also explained that I was a little worried about him. We talked for a while until he opened up to me.”
“David then went on to tell me that his employee had been distracted because of some family issues. Without going into detail, he let David in on some of the circumstances he was facing.”
“I merely listened without giving advice,” David continued. “And I ended our discussion by telling him that I would help him in any way I could. I then expressed my belief in his value to the company. There wasn’t a big turn around at first. But it didn’t take too long before he exceeded everyone’s expectations, I think even his own.”
“There was a long pause. I wasn’t overly impressed,” the executive remarked.
“If you’re telling me that it takes a little understanding to motivate people, then you’re telling me something that I would expect from anyone applying for this job.”
“But with all due respect, that’s not what I’m saying, sir.”
“Okay,” was the response. “Then I must be missing the point.”
“David looked straight at me, moving up in his seat, and then said something that blew me away.”
“It’s one thing to motivate employees by understanding them,” he said. “But it’s quite another to let them know they are worth understanding.”
“I sat back in my seat and thought ‘Wow!’ Typically, when I ask candidates to convince me of anything, they given me some sort of brag or suggest that I talk to a former boss or employee for corroboration. But this guy didn’t do that. He didn’t promote himself. I didn’t get the long-winded self-assessment I expected. Rather, he showed me what I wanted to see by sharing a relevant experience through powerful storytelling. If that’s how he persuades people to adopt his point of view, my vote is to get David on our team.”
The rest of the executives concurred. David got the job from effective powerful storytelling.
One of the reasons powerful storytelling is so tremendous is that they go beyond reporting factual results. Instead, they reveal beliefs and values that are responsible for the results. Through powerful storytelling, David engaged his listener by involving him in an experience that demonstrated the way he thinks.