Monday, 17 March 2014

Once upon a time...

By Jo Ellen Gryzb

Once upon a time….

Four of the most powerful words in any language. They create anticipation, expectation, excitement. They tap into something almost primeval – we metaphorically rub our hands together waiting to hear ‘what happens next’.

So isn’t it a real downer when someone tells us a boring story, or one filled with so many facts and figures it makes our heads spin and our eyes glaze over, or one that seems to go no-where and just peters out in a dribble?

StorytellingSince storytelling is one of man’s earliest forms of communication, our psyches are structured to welcome stories as a major form of interaction. We love a good ‘yarn’; the best after dinner speakers are paid loadsamoney to entertain their audiences because they put people into their feelings – laughter, inspiration, passion, tears.

We were chatting in the office recently about our earliest library experiences and everyone remembers their visits to Story Hour and sitting on the floor bursting with anticipation of the goodies to come. Even earlier memories for most of us were being read a bedtime story and begging for more.

And so much of our connection to other people is through the stories we tell.

In true storytelling fashion I now have to introduce the villain of the piece.

And who might that be?

Well, it’s people and businesses that seem to have forgotten that the best way to convey a potent message is through stories. They think presenting a zillion facts backed up by a squillion figures will do the trick. It’s 142 PowerPoint slides packed with dense information that puts people to sleep. It’s people and organisations that don’t recognise that one of the best way to convey information is by making it tantalising, intriguing and lively.

And the hero?

Well, that’s you, isn’t it?

You can be the hero in your own personal or corporate story by making Storytelling an integral part of the way you communicate both verbally and written (including emails!!). You can be a hero by brining facts and figures to life, boosting the impact of your PowerPoint and being a more engaging and entrancing communicator.

Stories will give us the happily ever after.

Storytelling is an important part of many of Impact Factory's open courses - including Presentation Skills, Communication and Public Speaking

We also run a dedicated one day Storytelling Course which will equip you with the skills and confidence to use the power of storytelling in your communications. 

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Can leaders be made?

Leadership Development

I've been in some form of leadership for all of my adult life and much of my younger years as well. The question still arises – are leaders born or can they be ‘made’?

Yes and yes is what I've decided. There are definitely natural leaders who continually find themselves in leadership positions whether they ask for them or not. 

I remember my own shock when I was appointed Editor of my High School yearbook when I had simply applied to be part of the Literary Staff. When I asked how that happened, the Teacher/Advisor said that the recruitment panel felt I had the kind of leadership qualities that would bring the staff together. 

What were those qualities and more importantly, can they be developed? Having a vision, identifying clear goals, being a terrific communicator, being flexible and open are all great qualities to have in a leader.

For us, however, the number one leadership quality is the ability to see what’s going on. If you can truly see what’s going on around you, you are far better placed to do something about it. 
Seeing is about: 
    Leadership Development Training
  • clearing away the distractions 
  • quickly getting to the heart of the issues
  • noticing what other people need 
  • having clarity on what to do about all of that

Being able to ‘see’ things from other people’s point of view is one of the most impelling qualities anyone can have because it encourages fairness and creates the ability to negotiate even in the most trying of circumstances.

Next, in terms of leadership development, you need to know what makes you tick, how you got to be the way you are, your behaviour and the impact that has on others. 

You need to understand how your beliefs and patterns influence your behaviour and which of those really support you and which need to be jettisoned or at least shifted in some way.

You can’t stay stuck. You need to be able to take action, even if it turns out to be wrong. Staying stuck will make you look indecisive, weak and subject to other people’s more strongly felt attitudes and demands. By taking some sort of action you will change the dynamics around you and that’s a good thing.

Finally, leadership development means you can’t do it alone. You need support. No matter how strong, capable, independent and autonomous you are or believe you are, welcoming support, displaying vulnerability and acting with humility will make all the difference to your success as a leader.

Find the next Leadership Development Course in London
Get 50 % off the next two day leadership training course - 13-14 March!

Friday, 7 March 2014

Introducing Earlybird Prices

We are happy to introduce earlybird prices for our open courses

Book an open course with us more than 90 days in advance and get 20% off! 
See what open courses are available here.

And get 50% off courses next week:

10 - 11 March
Almost all of us could look at our lives and know that there are certain situations where we would like a different outcome, but we are not sure how to go about it. This Two-day Personal Impact Course is devoted to helping you understand how you impact on others. Read more | Book online

11 March
This one-day Influencing and Negotiating Skills Course looks at Influencing and Negotiation as skills that work differently for each individual. 

13-14 March
This dynamic, experiential two-day Leadership Course is suitable for anyone taking on a leadership role. 

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Are you a strategic thinker?

Creative Strategic Thinking
By Jo Ellen Grzyb

Many, many years ago when I was Director of Special Events for the New York City Ballet someone asked me if I was a strategic thinker and at that time I wasn't exactly sure what that meant. 

To do listI was organised, clear about my goals, seemed to have a good road map for achieving them and had a pretty good idea of the potential pitfalls and road blocks. The events I ran, from huge galas that raised millions of dollars to more intimate donor dinners, were successful and well-received and I was usually satisfied that my project management was on-track and my ability to work with everyone - from visiting royalty to major donors to performers and support staff - was also pretty good.

But was I a strategic thinker? Did being well-organised, having to-do lists, juggling schedules really well mean I was strategic?

I didn't have an answer then, which probably had as much to do with my confidence levels as it did with truly understanding the question. Now, in retrospect I can absolutely say that I was and am a strategic thinker and that it has very little to do with those to-do lists, well-thought-out structures, plans, etc.

What it does have to do with, is about being on the alert to avoid old patterns and expectations, to avoid the predictable and most of all to avoid having a fixed picture and ways of doing things that stifle creativity, spontaneity and unpredictable problem-solving.

Yes, end goals are important and having a vision of how to achieve those goals is essential. However, it is very easy to get stuck on what ‘it’ is supposed to look like and to behave and have expectations of other people’s behaviour based on that fixed picture.

What I realised help make me successful in what I did then (and of course, what I do now) was a fluidity in my expectations and picture of the outcomes I aspired to. That fluidity meant far less stress because if something went wrong I had the creative wherewithal to find solutions that fit the situation rather than my picture of what it should be.

What has changed over the years is that I am far more conscious of using my creativity when planning things strategically and being able to communicate that creativity to those around me whose support I need and want. When I was younger, I see now that I often worked in a more isolated fashion because I didn't involve others in my vision and invite their creative solutions – I felt I had to do it all myself.

That’s the joy of creative strategic thinking – finding ways to articulate a vision and a strategy and bringing all those plans and to-do lists to life. It’s about being consciously aware of old patterns that can limit innovative thinking and get in the way of finding fresh solutions to any challenges that will inevitably arise during any project or plan.

And finally, it’s about channelling passion, enthusiasm and motivation in order to avoid the same old same old.

Impact Factory runs a two day course that gives an introduction to the idea of strategic thinking and more importantly provides some practical tools and techniques for turning strategy into reality.
Find the next Creative Strategic Thinking Course in London.

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