What is it all about
Ant-man is the story of cat burglar Scott Lang who has just been released from prison after committing burglary. He has been prohibited to see his daughter due to his inability to provide financial support. This has led him to do one more job, which we will learn was organized by scientist Hank Pym. Together, they must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world. Armed with an armor that provides him the astonishing abilities to control ants and shrink in scale yet keep his strength, Scott must embrace his inner hero and learn to become the man he always wanted to be; one that can be trusted. Ant-man is an extremely enjoyable movie worth watching.
What do we see in this scene?
Scott really needs money and decides to go hunt for a new job. He asks his friends for some details and then he gets this crazy answer. This is a very funny scene to watch, especially when you personally know someone that communicates this way.
So, how does this relate to leadership? Let’s find out!
What do we learn from this scene?
Leadership is about inspiring and ultimately influencing people. That storytelling is one of the most important skills in the leader’s skillset and that the right anecdote can be worth a thousand theories is nothing new. Many books have been written on the subject and the short video below by David Hutchens details it perfectly.
Alexander Mackenzie who’s an associate at the The Praxis Centre for Leadership Development explains that a story aims to deliver on three levels:
Inform, Engage and Inspire.
Telling a good and fun story is one thing, but telling a story that engages, inspires and most importantly informs… is another story.
Too much jelly in the story
Andy Bounds who helps business leaders all over the world to communicate better developed the Jelly Effect concept. In a nutshell, there is a minimum and maximum of information required to communicate effectively. Superficial content on top of it may have a negative effect on the desired result of the message communicated.
The following video provides basic insight in the so called Jelly Effect.
Lost in the story
Time to get back to the Ant-man video we were going to study. This scene is the perfect example of too much jelly destroys the message. It’s fun, full of anecdotes, and the storytelling is perfectly mastered. However, when we try to remember the important points we may remember baseball, boobs and maybe something else (was he talking about a safe?).
Luis, magistrally played by Michael Peña, teaches us what storytelling shouldn’t be. Whether Luis is a leader or not doesn’t really matter. If storytelling is used as a mean to convey information and influence people to do something then storytelling should remain the vehicle and not the goal itself.
It is no surprise that leaders who use anecdotes and short stories to describe a situation or convey a message think it through and write it on paper before they make their speech.
So, next time you want to tell a story think about Luis and when you wish to communicate about something get rid of the jelly.
And just in case you’re actually a fan of jelly like me, I then invite you to discover the Gintama animation, which is the ultimate king of all jellies and an extraordinary teacher in leadership! (you’re warned)