What the ant and the elephant teach us about leadership

I am great believer in the power of the parable, the fable, the story, the case study. I use stories frequently in my talks, sessions and in my writing. When people hear an inspiring tale that they can visualize, it helps them to remember the moral of the story and the lesson to be learned.Fables and parables are hardly new – they have been an essential vehicle for imparting wisdom as long as people have been telling tales. Today, they are becoming management tools.

Howard Gardner, author of Changing Minds, says that storytelling is the single most powerful tool in a leader’s toolkit. Former World Bank executive turned author, Stephen Denning, agrees: “The ability to tell the right story at the right time is emerging as an essential leadership skill to cope with, and get business results in the turbulent world of the 21st century.”

I can give you a wide number of titles that increasingly suggest that story telling is vital in marketing, strategy, leadership, culture, pitching, starting a business, growing a business, creativity, communication, etc.

The Ant and the Elephant: Leadership For the Self is one such book that emphasizes the use of storytelling in leadership.

The author, Vince Poscente is a business strategist. With no previous racing experience, he reached the gold medal qualification round of the Olympic speed-skiing competition, just four years after deciding to compete.

With his trademark wit and wisdom, Poscente shows us how to focus on and redirect the subconscious mind in order to accomplish the goals we consciously strive to achieve. This empowering story illustrates that understanding the dynamic relationship between conscious and subconscious thought is the first step toward becoming a leader who can transform workplace performance:

Meet Adir the ant and Elgo the elephant. Like two teammates who must work together to realize a common goal, Adir (our overly conscious hero) and Elgo (Adir’s stubborn and instinctual subconscious partner) must work as a single creature in order to reach the Oasis, their vision of paradise in the African savannah.

Their simple story is a powerful metaphor designed to bring out your best performance as a leader, so that you can do the same for those around you. The Ant and the Elephant is a must-read for all who strive to transform their workplace through inspired leadership or merely reach their full potential as individuals.

photo by Katrina Snaps

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