‘The Power of Stories’

Kyle Bennett, Staff Writer

On Thursday, Feb. 27, Professor Karise Hutchinson visited Bloomsburg University to give a lecture, titled “Leadership Development for Small Business,” on entrepreneurial leadership. The focus of the lecture was on “The Power of Stories” and how they could be used to help leaders in every field be more effective and improve their communication.
Professor Hutchinson is from Northern Ireland and is the Provost at Ulster University as well as a Professor of Leadership. She has spent the majority of her career researching and helping to grow small businesses through effective management and by engaging with the industry. She has also appeared in a number of television, radio and national media broadcasts speaking on current economic issues in North Ireland.
Hutchinson is the author of “Leadership Development for Small Business: The Power of Storytelling,” the book for which she has won numerous awards and the lecture was based upon. Her passion for growing the small market economy of Northern Ireland by developing business leaders was evident throughout her lecture.
During her lecture, Professor Hutchinson pointed out that 95% of companies in Northern Ireland were small business and of those, 75% were sole proprietorships. She also noted that 55% of businesses in the UK fail in the first three years. She attributed this to many of them not having a “plan” or, as she put in the context of storytelling, a “plot.”
Hutchinson stressed that leadership is the embodiment of who you are at work. She also insisted that the way you act and lead will be reflected upon those you are in charge of. One of her mantras, “people before paper,” was something she learned as an administrative professional at a major educational institution.
“Change is always occurring, it is just the pace of the change that we have to adapt to,” said Hutchinson when talking about adjusting to changes in business as well as society as a whole.
In the final part of the lecture, she focused on storytelling as a science. Hutchinson stated that only two parts of the brain are active when simply relaying information to employees. However, when that same information was relayed by telling a story, the brain then used seven different parts and was more likely to recognize, comprehend and retain information.
Hutchinson followed this remark up by asking the audience to use one word to describe the future. After a few pertinent but unsatisfactory answers she stated that emotion was the future. She viewed emotion as a reaction to an event and stressed that that reaction was more important than the event itself.
Professor Hutchinson has helped several diverse businesses through her work all the way from Irish fashion brand Taylor Yates to medical manufacturers such as Armstrong Medical LTD. She ended her lecture by stressing that leadership is for everyone and the future depends on strong, smart and resourceful leaders stepping up and making a difference in the world.