A year ago, I was sitting in a meeting and the speaker was telling a story. She did a great job of capturing the attention of the audience, including me. The story was about her son and his baseball team. I won’t go into the details, but at the core, she was story telling about how proud she was of her son. She showed vulnerability, and to be honest with you, she connected with me.
I don’t work with this person on a day-to-day basis; I just was lucky enough to be sitting in that room, on that day, listening to that story.
She created a Leadership Impression on me.
But what if I physically had not been there? Well, there would not have been a Leadership Impression made. I envisioned applying for a job in the future where she was the hiring manager. In one story, I recalled word by word her story, immediately reciting it back to her, impressing her with my memory skills, and getting the job because of this connection. In another version–the one where I had not attended the meeting–we went through a mundane interview process and I didn’t get the job. No connection.
I bet she’s done a great job of creating Leadership Impressions this way throughout her career. These ways have been effective at establishing authentic connections with people. She’s been successful.
I demonstrated the courage to plant the seed that if she were to just write down stories like this, she could exponentially increase the number of Leadership Impressions she was creating, with a broader base of followers than she had today. While she liked the idea, she’s written nothing in about a year. The baseball story was the only one I’ve been able to hear her tell. I’m sure she’s told more stories, but only the few who were present were able to get the value.
At some point in the future, however, her ways might not scale. Her teams might not always “be in the room” to receive her messages. She’ll have team in multiple buildings–heck, countries–just waiting to follow her. But if she does not start to change the way in which she works, that is, start to lead in a scalable way through the use of enterprise collaboration tools, soon her followers won’t hear these stories, or her voice. People might start to wonder why her team is not connected to her. In short, she might not be seen as a relevant leader in the future. All because she stopped short of creating the most number of Leadership Impressions possible by not only telling her story, but writing it down as well.