What Makes Great Leaders

5 Important Ways To Be Storytelling 

I'm sure you've heard this expression: "People leave managers, not companies."  When you combine this piece of wisdom with the latest research showing 70% of US workers are either not engaged or actively disengaged at work, all I can say is "Yikes!"

So how do you make certain you are not chipping in to the 70% club?

I always say that storytelling is not the answer to every problem, but when it comes to leadership it's a critical core competency. Especially if you understand story dynamics. We tend to think the focus is on storytelling. But the twin to storytelling is story listening. Story listening embodies specific behaviors and attitudes (like reflective questions and recognition) to gain the maximum value out of the experience. It's like 2 halves of the same coin.

Here are 5 ways story dynamics moves you to the exclusive 30% club of engaged employees:

1. Increase your openness and transparency to build collaboration. Don't converse like a talking head in boring business speak. Drop the jargon. Use the dynamics of story sharing to connect, build relationships, and collaboration in order to achieve something extraordinary.

2. It's a relationship and social economy these days, and you need to attract, focus, and keep talented employees.

  • Have you shared the "why" stories about their work and what's expected of them?
  • Do you leverage the behaviors and attitudes of story listening to convey your recognition and praise for doing good work?

3. Trust is a keystone your leadership needs to stand on.

  • Are you sharing a story and then modeling the positive behaviors the story is about? You move from storytelling to story doing when you walk the talk.
  • Are you being authentic in my stories and habits?
  • But even more importantly, are you story listening? Story listening come first for any trust to be built at all.

4. A sustainable culture creates an environment of learning and growth.

  • Are you repeatedly sharing stories about how employees are reaching their potential?
  • Are you sharing stories demonstrating that growing people is one of your priorities?
  • Are you sharing stories about experiencing organizational values in action?
  • Or stories about being best-in-class?
  • Or stories about incredible mentors/mentorship in your company?

5. And last but not least -- in fact, it should probably be #1 -- is self development. A self-aware leader is a resilient leader. Are you asking yourself questions like:

  • What's the story you're telling myself about yourself, or about others -- and is this still valid?
  • Where did your stories about anger, fear, withdrawal, optimism, openness and assertiveness come from?
  • How do you rewrite the story to live into that new or revised narrative?
  • What role models do you admire and what are their stories that can be used to help guide you?

These 5 ways to be is the heart of leadership. Because as the famous author Salman Rushdie says,

"Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives -- the power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change -- truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts."

Find your stories. Listen well. Story on and flourish!

If you want to join Karen in a 3-hour exclusive story strategy workshop for CEOs in November, send her an email at Karen@juststoryit.com

For workshops or coaching on Storytelling For Influence (includes story listening), Transformational Leadership, Data Storytelling, and Inspiring Presentations, contact Karen.