interactive storytelling and leading forward

In some ways, these are less storytelling per se and more story play, but it's certainly interesting to see this pop up in the Chronicle blogosphere.

Tomorrow I lead a 3.5 hour workshop for the Leading Forward training on campus for Advancement (read: fundraising).  This is the fourth or fifth such workshop I've developed for them, this one called "Your Leading Story."  Highlights include an overview of storytelling (teller, tale, audience) as a concept and as a practice, ethical storytelling practices, the importance of retelling and listening to the development of a story, authenticity in leadership, and two workshop sessions on "your leadership story" and on using concepts from The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner as a basis for a leadership-focuses presentation illustrated with stories of successful leadership.

Here's a story I plan to tell tomorrow:

Recently, I learned that some of our graduate students were going to host a student-led conference in the building to discuss critical issues in library and information science (LIS) education.  I had multiple thoughts and responses, and I reached out to be sure all the health-and-safety measures were covered, as an administrator and as a supporter of student-led events in general.  I also thought about how I would have wanted to be responded to if I were a student bringing up critical issues in a school like ours.

I thought back to undergrad, when I was one of a group of students who brought concerns to Dr. Gordon "Mike" Michaelson, and the exceptional graciousness and supportiveness of his responses.  I emailed Mike and we tried to set a phone date, but he was busy helping bell hooks with a car situation (I'm not making this up!) so we just emailed instead.  The most important thing he said was this:  It's all about the students.  Always.

I opted to lead in the ways I had learned from his example, to lead in the ways that represented my best efforts to make it all about the students.  This month, I'll be submitting a conference session proposal to the ALISE conference (for which I'm co-chair of the program committee this year) that is authored primarily by some of those students, and I'll participate as a post-presentation discussion leader around the idea of student support.  The story of my own leadership keeps growing and changing, of course, as I hope it does and will for tomorrow's workshop participants.  The session is designed to encourage participants to reflect on their own leadership stories and to think about how those stories can grow and change, through their actions as leaders at any level.

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