in Communication, Leadership, Leading People, Leading the Self

Engagement, Leadership and Power of Storytelling

Last week, I had a short conversation with one of my colleagues in HR about the all important topic of employee engagement. In an impromptu conversation, we touched upon a very important point: People love (and remember) stories, not facts.

We loved it when our grandparents wrapped important life lessons in form of stories. Vivid situations weaved in words and narrated with great zeal. The stories I heard in my childhood, and the messages therein, are still afresh in my memory. My daughter almost gets hooked when a story is narrated. We grow up on stories, so do our belief system and our world view.

For leaders, ability to communicate using stories, choosing stories in line with listener’s current context and structuring them for maximum impact are very crucial skills.

Here are a few ways you can use power of storytelling:

  • As a speaker/presenter, you can use stories to capture the imagination of audience. The lessons we learn as conclusions of interesting stories make a bigger impact than getting directly to the lessons. Great presenters tell great stories, anecdotes and experiences that truly engage the audience. They make a point at the end of each story.
  • As a business leader, your biggest challenge is to keep your people engaged with your mission and with their work. Inspire them with stories about the organization. Show them the future. Tell tales of triumphs and trials, of success and failures, of past and future. Stories reinforce the belief system. Stories validate people’s aspirations and empower them. Stories create alignment and hence culture. Your people, new hires and aspiring leaders are not as fascinated by numbers as they are with the stories associated with the organization. Listen to their stories as well.
  • As a sales leader, you can use power of well crafted stories to project your organization. Numbers and explicit details are fine, but stories of your inception, growth, challenges, success stories (in similar context) can help you a great deal in establishing comfort and confidence with your prospective customers.

Critical Question: How can you leverage the power of storytelling to enrich your conversations, build great relationships, truly connect with people and make a difference?

Have a FANTASTIC Friday and a great weekend ahead!

11 Comments

  1. Nice Idea for making someone easily agree about the true things in corporate world. Thanks ! :)

    Megha

    • @Conor – It is – and all great speakers I have seen have been master storytellers. My daughter is 3.5 yrs old and most of the times, she does not respond to explicit lessons, but the moment she feels that a story is being narrated, she completely attends. I think we grow up, but our affinity towards stories remain the same. When leaders leverage this affinity, they create aligned teams.

      Thanks for the comment and sharing your views!

      Best,
      Tanmay

  2. Tanmay,

    Absolutely agree! I have young children too and they are automatically drawn to stories and songs… there is something catchy to “Whistle while you work….” from Snow White. So the same must be true for the work environment! :-)

    When I train trainers, we discuss and practice the impact of storytelling on adults. Whenever I tell a story in training sessions or talks, it instantly (what I describe as) “sucks people into the vortex”!

    As leaders it’s important to “trigger” the thoughts/actions of our team members by linking vision and goals to their previous life experiences – stories do that! These triggers foster action, trust, and commitment (because as you explained, people remember stories more than “orders”). Also, selecting the right story for your team and the situation is also important to consider.

    I love the story-telling aspect and I use it consistently in my work. I am currently running a contest called: Exposing Exceptional Performance in HR, where I am inviting leaders to send in stories of their success with HR! A fun contest that calls on the power of the story to celebrate, recognize, and give away prizes!

    Be creative, leaders, it’s time to “suck our teams into the vortex”!

    Sonia
    .-= Sonia Di Maulo´s last blog ..A Story of Giving Authentic and Effective Recognition by Wally Bock =-.

  3. @Sonia – Thanks for the comment here and encouragement via Twitter. I am so glad that ideas presented in the post resonated well with you.

    I recently attended a lecture from an Indian celebrity on “excellence” and I never felt that I was attending a lecture. I felt as if I was accompanying him in his journey of life, and at important points, he profoundly delivered the lesson.

    I have been a strong believer in power of storytelling. When stories are powerful, mapped with audience’s context and delivered effectively – they create an influence, align people to a common goal and change them for better.

    That is what leadership is all about.

    Thanks again – and have a great weekend!

    Best,

    Tanmay

  4. I truly agree with you, best lesson are learnt with story. I have noticed that in Prof. Pillai as well, I have seen he doesnt give advice he tells story. and everyone loves it.

    • @Ajay – I totally admire Mr. Pillai for his style of delivering lessons through stories and thought-provoking exercises.

      Best,
      Tanmay

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