One of the key marks of a good leader is to motivate others to act, to carry out the vision that has been laid forth. An Action Story delivers a framework that clearly articulates the challenge, names the vision, and defines tangible action steps that motivate and inspire the audience to act.
We have all heard stories about challenges and problems and we’ve heard leaders share visions – some that inspire us, and some that really just sound like grandiose speeches with little substance. The speaker, in the latter case, may have done a good job of framing the issue or challenge, but has done a poor job of laying out action that is tangible enough to inspire the audience. By using an Action Story we can call our audience into the action needed.
So, what does an Action Story entail?
As with the other stories (story of self, “we” story), the Action Story has the same basic story components: a beginning, a middle, and an end. The beginning of the story functions as the current challenge the group is facing; “Currently, we are facing unclear expectations from our project supervisor, we are not getting the support we need to complete the project and we are not on target to meet our deadline.” The end of the story serves as the vision for what we want; “We want to be in a place where we know what’s expected of us, we have the support we need and we can meet our deadline while delivering a high quality product that will satisfy our customers.”
The middle of the story is where we get clear on action – what needs to happen to address the challenge at the beginning and achieve the results we want at the end? There are three questions to ask that will shape an inspiring action in the middle: 1) What is the action that needs to take place? 2) What will the action allow to happen? and 3) What will that result in?
Here’s how it plays out in the story: (Beginning-Challenge) “Currently, we are facing unclear expectations from our project supervisor, we are not getting the support we need to complete the project, and we are not on target to meet our deadline.” (End-Vision) “We want to be in a place where we know what’s expected of us, we have the support we need and we can meet our deadline while delivering a high quality product that will satisfy our customers.” (Middle-Action) “By setting our own expectations for the project based on customer input and creating a timeline and action steps that meet the deadline, we will be able to move forward with the project and deliver on time and satisfy our customers.”
By answering the three questions, the middle of the story names clear actions while demonstrating why the actions are important. The actions lead to the results we are looking for in the vision.
As Leaders, we are often faced with challenges in our work that require others to help us achieve the results we need. By using the Action Story framework you will be able to connect with and inspire others to take action to achieve the results you need.