Earlier this week, via the Leadership Development Centre, I attended a seminar by the leadership guru Ron Heifetz. He was an interesting study as a presenter partly because he made very effective use of story and metaphor. Any of us could adopt his approach just by putting in some work:
- Heifetz showed he had done his homework before coming 'Down Under'. He discussed Winston Churchill as a leader. Heifetz had a New Zealand version relating to the iconic events of Gallipoli, rather than choosing an aspect of Churchill's life less close to our hearts.
- He used simple local anecdote - using a visit to a local cafe to develop a metaphor for routine technical leadership. Plus he complimented us about NZ coffee at the same time!
- An ancient story from Heifetz's Jewish background made another important point. People said to me that they found the story intrinsically interesting, plus it gave Heifetz a chance to share something of himself with us.
- A couple of current New Zealand metaphors showed he was up to date with things Kiwi. One of these metaphors, the Whale Rider story from the New Zealand film, took a central role in his development of his approach to leadership.
- Heifetz also connected to us, 'parent to parent' by using events surrounding his son's bad skiing injury.
Okay, we may not all be Harvard University leadership gurus, but each of us could create valuable stories from our own and our audience's worlds.