How a Director at P&G Turned Failure to Success

Dissatisfaction indicates potential if you’re willing to adapt, grow, and learn. Apart from adapting, dissatisfaction is the path to paralyzing despair.

Failure works when it changes us for the better.

Paul Smith, author of, Lead with a Story, felt like a failure after giving his first presentation to then CEO of Procter & Gamble, A.G. Lafley. Interestingly, the Global Executive Leadership Council that Lafley led adopted his recommendations. But, he still left feeling he failed. Why?

Paul arrived early to set up. When Lafley arrived, he walked around the room greeting Council members and finally sat with his back to the screen. Ugh!

While Paul presented, Lafley never looked at the screen, not once for 20 minutes. It freaks me out just thinking about it. That’s why Paul felt he failed. What was missing?

Everyone loves a great storyteller.

Paul concluded that Lafley was looking, “… to engage someone in dialogue… to share a brilliant idea… to ask for his help. In short, for someone to tell him a story.”

During our conversation Paul said, twenty years later, he’s a better leader because he’s a better storyteller.

“The ability to tell stories makes leaders more influential.”
Paul Smith

Paul says stories have:

  1. Context.
  2. Action.
  3. Result.

Context includes important questions like:

  1. What does the main character want?
  2. Who or what is getting in the way?

Paul believes storytelling is one reason for his career success at P&G. His book shows readers how to use stories to, energize, educate, empower, and more.

One thing is certain. He transformed failure to competence.

What failure have you transformed into competence?

What makes a story great?

More: The Untapped Secret of Leadership Success

Paul Smith is director of Consumer Research & Communication at Procter & Gamble

Follow Paul on twitter: @LeadWithAStory