leadership

Stories for storytelling: kangaroos or tuna farms?

Gabrielle Dolan /

One of many challenges leaders face is communicating to their team and inspiring them to make a difference.

Sonia Aplin works for Ericsson and is head of internal Communications for south-east Asia and Oceania region and she had such an issue.

Sonia wanted to get across to members of her regional team the valuable contribution they make and the difference they can make as individuals.

This is the story she shared.

“When I was 21 I worked as a journalist in a coastal town called Esperance, where the beaches were so pristine that the sand squeaked beneath your toes and, amazingly, you would see kangaroos sunbathing.

One day I received a phone call from a woman called Elaine who had read a story I had written about the government’s plans to establish tuna farms off the coast. Elaine had found out through research that tuna farms brought with them pollution and attracted sharks, so she set about changing the government’s agenda – by holding meetings with ministers, organising town hall sessions and even protests.

After an 18 month campaign, Elaine was able to overturn the government’s decision. This experience taught me that it’s possible for one person to make a real difference to the future of their community.

I’m sharing this with you because sometimes we underestimate the impact we have on our company’s goals, but like Elaine, if we set our minds to it, we can have a lot of influence. Your efforts and actions could mean the difference between tuna farms or kangaroos sunbathing on a white sandy beach.”

Inspiring leaders motivate people to make a real difference and using story is a way to help people connect in their own way to what is possible. Infosys’s Narayana Murthy put it well when he said, “To me, leadership is primarily about raising the aspirations of people, making people say that they will walk on water. A plausible impossibility is better than a convincing possibility.”

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Gabrielle Dolan

Gabrielle Dolan is an expert in business storytelling and the author of "Ignite: Real leadership, real talk, real results" and "Storytelling for Job Interviews".

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