Have you heard the story about the leader who became an effective story teller?

Sep 07, 2023

Is your communication with your team transactional, or does it tap into others’ emotions and value systems?


Stories are a great way of communicating a message in a way that is memorable and sticks.  It can deliver multiple layers of meaning and tap into what really drives your people.  By using the emotional and cognitive power of stories, you can create a more connected, motivated, and aligned team that is ready to tackle challenges and achieve shared goals.


What makes stories different is they can evoke emotions and create a personal connection.  Its also a great way to share something about yourself.  By highlighting your journey, challenges, and successes, you can resonate with your team and stakeholders on a deeper level.


If you find yourself presenting a lot of hard metrics, story telling is a great way to humanise their outcomes and highlight their impact, both positive and negative.


Everyone has received constructive feedback that may be difficult to accept.  Stories of setbacks, and lessons learned showcase your vulnerability and humility as a leader. These stories emphasise that mistakes are part of growth and development. By sharing your own learning experiences, you encourage a culture where having open conversations about things that didn’t work become the norm.


Incorporating storytelling into your leadership approach enables you to engage, inspire, and influence those around you. By harnessing the emotional and cognitive power of stories, you can create a more connected, motivated, and aligned team that is ready to tackle challenges and achieve shared goals.


Not all leaders are effective story tellers.  If this is you there are ways to craft this skill that can make conversations easier, improve your messaging and give you another tool in your communication toolkit.


Learning to become a storyteller as a leader involves practice, observation, and refining your storytelling skills over time. Here are some simple steps to help you build your story telling muscle and get started:

  1. Tune into your team: understand their experience level and how they are feeling in their role right now. Are they on a steep learning curve or are they looking for a new challenge?  Perhaps their performance is not where you want it to be.  Reflect on a time where you have had a similar experience or worked with someone who has and how they overcame that challenge. 
  2. Identify Relevant Stories: Think about personal experiences, challenges you've overcome, and successes you've achieved. Identify stories that align with your leadership values and the messages you want to convey to your team or audience.
  3. Craft Your Stories: with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Introduce relevant traits of the characters, set the context, describe the journey, and conclude with a key takeaway. Focus on the emotions and lessons within the story.
  4. Practice Active Listening: Pay attention to how skilled storytellers engage their audiences. A great source is listening to TED Talks and podcasts, where storytelling is a key element. Take note of their tone, pacing, and how they transition between different parts of the story.
  5. Choose the Right Timing: Select appropriate moments to share your stories. Whether it's during team meetings, presentations, or one-on-one conversations, find situations where your stories can effectively share an insight, inspire, or motivate.
  6. Listen out for Feedback: As you start sharing stories, actively seek feedback from your audience. Pay attention to their reactions, engagement levels, and the points they remember from your stories. Use this feedback to refine your storytelling techniques.
  7. Be Authentic: Authenticity is key to effective storytelling. Share stories that are genuinely meaningful to you. Authenticity makes your stories more relatable.


Remember that becoming a skilled storyteller takes time. Don't be discouraged by initial challenges or feeling uncomfortable – embrace them as opportunities for growth. Over time, your storytelling abilities will enhance your leadership presence and ability to connect with and influence others.


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