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How to use this communication style to increase results

| by Mark Deterding

“He taught them many things by parables” (Mark 4:2). 

How do you get your most important points across — the things you absolutely needpeople to remember and act upon?

If you’re like me, during my years in the corporate world, you might find yourself stripping down your important messages to their bare bones. You use bullet points. People are inundated with thousands of messages each day, so you streamline your communication to ensure people stick with your message to the end.

What if—in some situations—you take the opposite approach to get people to remember and act upon your words?

Jesus: The master communicator

When it came to teaching, you could say that Jesus spent a fair amount of His time beating around the bush. That is, He often spoke in parables. Parables are subtle. They require you to pause and tease out the meaning, thoughtfully.

Why, when time was of the essence, wasn’t Jesus more straightforward?

Humans remember stories better than dry facts. You know this to be true. In fact, according to research funded by the Department of Defense, our brains are actually chemically structured to cooperate and empathize with others better when they are exposed to effective storytelling.

Of course, Jesus spoke to us in parables. It’s the mode of communication He knew would evoke the deepest change within us.

What are the elements of a good parable?

Effective parables are concise stories that illustrate how people can handle specific moral dilemmas. Parables can demonstrate wise behaviors leading to positive outcomes, or unwise behaviors leading to negative outcomes. Either way, the listener walks away with a clear understanding of right and wrong.

Where can you start using parables in your leadership?

So, how can you follow Jesus’ lead and start integrating parables into how you lead?

A powerful place to start is with your organization’s purpose. Consider the core teaching your purpose conveys. What moral question has your senior leadership team implicitly answered through defining your purpose?

Once you’ve pinpointed the moral question at play, invest time in developing a parable around it. Pull in your target customer persona and your MVP employee persona. What story naturally develops, as you think about your purpose in parable form?

After you’ve written your organization’s purpose parable, think about how you could use it to onboard new employees, develop your middle managers, and enhance your brand story.

I’m in the process right now of weaving together stories of life impact from clients who have engaged in Leading Jesus’ Way training, to help share the purpose of Triune Leadership Services. The clarity and energy the process is bringing is tremendous.

Will you join me in this practice, and step into using parables in how you lead?

Photo source: istock 


Mark Deterding

Mark Deterding is the founder and principal of Triune Leadership Services, LLC. In 2011 he formed Triune Leadership Services to follow his passion of working with leaders to help them develop core servant leadership capabilities that allow them to lead at a higher level and enable them to achieve their God-given potential. He is married to his wife Kim, and they have two sons, two lovely daughter-in-laws, and three wonderful grandchildren.

This article was first published on triuneleadershipservices.com. Used with permission. 



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This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow.
Isaiah 48:17 (NLT)
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