J is the CEO of an organisation, a lawyer by profession and a former client. Last week, we met up for our six-monthly coffee. We’re pretty open about our lives and what’s going on for us, and she shares with me some of the challenges of being a CEO. If I hear something in what she’s sharing and can offer her a word or a thought about it, I offer.
Over coffee, J told me a story she’d heard which had had an impact on her leading.
It concerned a US study that found breakdowns in customer service can generate greater customer trust than that generated by smooth service. In the study, the service provider acknowledged the breakdown, apologised and took steps to make good the breakdown. When the breakdown was handled in such a way, participants reported greater satisfaction than that reported in a control group in which there was no breakdown.
J said she often thought of this story and had also shared it with her assistant, S. She said both she and S were fearful of making mistakes, not getting things right, not having everything perfect, and she recalled this story whenever she wanted to bolster herself, and that S did too.
As J told the story, she was excited and lit up. Partway through, she remembered I’d been the one who’d told the story in one of our previous meetings.
How do you know a story has transformative power? When you hear it coming back to you, grown fat with meaning and application.
Image: Red Sun, Arthur Dove (American, 1880-1946)