Connecting with people + story = winner


December 3rd, 2007

The Rudd Labor Government was sworn in today with Kevin Rudd aka Kevin 07 as Australia’s 26th Prime Minister. Not only was the incumbent Liberal Party vanquished but its leader John Howard lost the seat he had held for 33 years. Polls had shown the Labor Party ahead all year leading up to the election – yet many people freely acknowledged the economic management of the Liberals (I’m not one of them, but this post is not really about politics).

Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald on the Monday following the election, Arthur Sinodinos, writes:

(Stephen Denning’s) thesis is that the art of successful leadership requires the ability to tell a story. The story is the vehicle for establishing a personal and emotional connection between the speaker and his audience. Rational arguement will not win people over.

It’s compulsory to vote (or, in reality, turn up to vote) in Australia and elections are always held on a Saturday. This means that campaigning funds can be used to influence voters on how to vote rather than on encouraging them to even turn up to vote.

Putting emphasis on connecting with people was an inspired part of the Labor Party’s campaign – obviously Kevin 07 had the main running, along with many of his relatively unknown colleagues. Making a connection is ALWAYS the first step in building rapport and building some sort of ongoing relationship. We know this from facilitating. And we also know that storytelling is a way of maintaining and strengthening the connection. There’s an implicit criticism of story in Sinodinos’s article – it’s either rational argument or story. I believe that both can live side by side. There’s no rule that I know of that says rational arguement can’t be a part of story or vice versa. And wouldn’t it be fascinating to see a Government using all its resources – left and right brain?

The interesting bit now will be to see how the story unfolds.

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