Stories and Storytelling
Stories provide context that can make it easier to internalize values and lessons of
leadership and experience. This section offers resources about
the art of storytelling as well as numerous inspirational success stories of
public sector leadership.
Senior government executives have a vital role to play in growing the
next generation of leaders, argues Ray Blunt in this highly useful
article from The Public
. Blunt describes how stories can help executives
pass leadership lessons on to the next generation in a vivid way.
Includes tips on how to identify one's own leadership stories.
Chapter One of the
terrific book by Annette Simmons, The Story Factor
In this part, Simmons explains why stories are so much more effective
than "facts" in influencing people and describes the six key kinds of
stories that leaders need to be able to tell. Includes several examples
of highly effective stories.
The vast majority of the stories that have been published about effective
leadership in government discuss leaders at the senior level. There are numerous
effective mid-level leaders within the Federal Government who play a key role in
program success, but their stories are seldom told in a forum where they can be
shared with others and used as a learning tool. Many of these stories offer real
and compelling lessons for those who aspire to become more effective leaders.
This collection of stories is a result of the work of the 2007 Fall Session
Excellence in Government Fellows Program Group 2 Results Team. The collection
captures stories of mid-level leadership from six different Federal Government
agencies. GovLeaders.org is pleased to publish this series of stories
in collaboration with the inspired
members of that Results Team, who include Brian Schultz, LaTonya Kittles, Amna
Ibrahim, Kathy Ellis, Melanie Hoff, and Ray M. Crawford, Jr..
When General Bill Creech (1927-2003
) took command of the US Air Force's Tactical
Air Command (TAC) in 1978, the organization was in dire straits.
Combat readiness was at an all-time low, maintenance was sloppy, and
accident rates were high. The Air Force as a whole was being
described by some observers as "ready for the last war" (as opposed to
being ready for the next one). In his six years in charge of TAC, Gen.
Creech orchestrated an extraordinary turnaround that ultimately swept
through the rest of the Air Force and many other parts of the U.S. Armed
Forces. Many people credit Creech's leadership, management reforms, and tactical
innovations for the USAF's dominance in the Gulf
War, Afghanistan, and Iraq. This is one of the most
compelling--and useful--stories of organizational transformation you
will find anywhere. Originally published by INC. Magazine in January 1987,
this article was just recently added to INC.com's online archive.
Commander Mike Abrashoff's success in turning the USS Benfold
into the best ship in the Pacific Fleet (if not the entire U.S. Navy)
were first reported in the terrific 1989 FastCompany article, "Grassroots
." Abrashoff has gone on to publish two Best
Sellers, It's Your Ship
Your Ship Together
," both of which are great reads with many
useful insights. In October 2004, ICMA's
published the article "Build
Up Your People
," which is excerpted from Abrashoff's first book.
As with Abrashoff's other books and articles, this one is inspiring
because it includes a rare combination of 1) compelling stories; 2)
clearly measurable results, and 3) actionable tips.
Ambassador Prudence Bushnell, recipient of the 2004
Service to America Medal
Career Achievement, has made a career out of doing the right thing.
This inspiring article from Government Executive Magazine describes two
key events that defined Amb. Bushnell as a great leader. The first
was her courageous--and rather solitary--effort to stop the genocide in
Rwanda in 1994. Second was her leadership as U.S. Ambassador to
Nairobi, which was crucial to holding together the Embassy staff
in the aftermath of the 1998 bombing by Al Qaeda.
GovLeaders.org was developed on the premise that government is
much more effective when managers create an environment in
which front-line employees are fully engaged in the process of
continuous improvement. This excellent report by the IBM Endowment for the Business of Government
is a textbook case of how this can work. It describes how
front-line employees of the Upstate New York Veterans Healthcare Network
took ownership of their jobs and significantly expanded and improved
their services despite significant staffing cuts.
For a veritable gold mine of reports on good government, check out the
"Endowment Publications" section on the web site of the
IBM Endowment for the
Business of Government
from the City Journal about how Police Commissioner William Bratton
transformed the NYPD in the mid-1990s. Using
innovative management practices and superb data mining techniques,
Bratton improved morale and got the police to focus on crime prevention
instead of arrest rates. The results were staggering; homicides
dropped 68 percent and overall felonies dropped by half. For an
even better analysis of Bratton's leadership and management, see the
article Tipping Point Leadership
" in the April 2003 issue of the
Harvard Business Review.
An inspirational FastCompany article about D. Michael Abrashoff, the
former Captain of the USS Benfold, who turned the navy's 200
year-old management style on its head while transforming his ship
into the best ship in the Pacific Fleet. This article should be
required reading for all government managers. For additional
information on Abrashoff and more great success stories, see his web
How do you motivate your employees and build loyalty when you don't
have the ability to give big pay raises, bonuses or other financial
incentives? This article from the August 2003 issue of
provides several case studies about managers who inspired their employees
to do great things despite the lack of financial rewards. They did
it by showing day in and day out that they care about their employees.
Includes a number of very inspirational stories.
Excellent series of articles from the July 2002 issue of Government
Executive Magazine discussing several managers who led dramatic turn-arounds
in their organizations and made them great places to work. Make sure to
click on the article's "Related Links" side-bar, as they are all part of
the same cover story. For other articles of general interest to
government managers, see Government
Executive Magazine online
© GovLeaders.org 2002-2012