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The Stories We Tell

August 18, 2010

Christy Uffelman has an interesting story to tell. If it was a cautionary tale about the struggles associated with being a female leader in a male-dominated industry, bringing expertise whose value was not yet understood at a time when many construction companies faced restructuring and layoffs, it would be understandable.

But during our conversation she told a more compelling story about building networks and leveraging strengths as she:

  • Brought a fresh point of view and capabilities to the executive team,
  • Built credibility with an award-winning program that helps employees communicate and work well together,
  • And partnered with her company’s founder to create an emerging leaders program that is transferring knowledge and experience from one generation of leaders to the next.

Her story is peppered with descriptions of the capabilities and character of those she works with, as well as her own learning. When Christy says, “I am not a character in the story of my life, I am the author,” she positions herself to write a story of success.

Harvard’s Howard Gardner says, “Stories are the single most powerful weapon in a leader’s arsenal.”

In the stories you tell yourself and others about your work,

  • What kinds of themes do you tend to emphasize?
  • What role do you typically play?
  • Whose capabilities are highlighted?

… and, is there a bigger story you want to create and tell?

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