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Jane Sparrow

Northern Flight

Managing Director

Read more about Jane Sparrow

Blog: Crisis stories – What RBS’ Stephen Hester can teach us


RBS‘ Stephen Hester has emerged to apologise to his customers for the ‘technical issues’ that have left millions of customers frozen out of their accounts.

Interestingly, he used the analogy of delayed planes waiting to clear after heavy rain to highlight the fact that the backlog of problems needs time to be fixed.
I’ve talked about the role of leader as storyteller before here and here and this is a perfect example of how important the role is during a crisis. Creating a compelling story is a valuable way of connecting with people and providing the context and clarity they need.  
Of course, some leaders find storytelling much easier than others but there are some simple things to consider if it isn’t your greatest strength. Great storytellers weave colour and depth into their stories by using analogies and metaphors. They evoke powerful imagery in our minds and help us ‘see’ the story. 
Hester tried to identify with us by choosing a scenario with which many of us are familiar – a delayed plane due to difficult weather conditions. However, the challenge for many people listening to him is that his communication needed more empathy and immediacy. I’m sure the lessons will continue to be learnt as the fall-out continues… 
Jane Sparrow is managing director of behavioural change consultancy, Northern Flight.

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Jane Sparrow

Managing Director

Read more from Jane Sparrow

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