I spend an enjoyable day yesterday at the AFR leadership conference in Sydney. The first speaker was Alex Malley, CEO of CPA Australia. Alex noted that all of us have childhood experiences that shape our views on leadership. He told a story about his first leadership experience. My recollection of his story is as follows:
When I was 12 years old, my mum was in hospital, very sick. The first time I went in to visit her I was on my own, and a bit overwhelmed. Walking down the corridors, looking for the right room and finally finding it. When I entered the room I wasn’t sure what to do. The cleaner looked up and saw this 12-year-old boy obviously looking quite apprehensive. He came over to me and said “you must be Alex. Your mom has told me everything about you, she’s very proud of you. Your mum is very sick right now but it’s important that you know that she loves you very much.”
Many people I spoke to during the day commented on this story and how powerful it was. It just goes to show that a simple example such as this can convey powerful messages that stick in people’s minds. It’s also a good example of how leadership can be displayed by anyone in an organisation.
About Mark Schenk
Mark works globally with senior leadership teams to improve their ability to communicate clearly and memorably. He has been a Director of Anecdote since 2004 and helped the company grow into one of the world’s leading business storytelling consultancies. Connect with Mark on: