What Makes Great Leaders

5 Important Ways To Be Storytelling 

I'm sure you've heard this expression: "People leave managers, not companies."  Substitute "leaders" for "managers" and the result is the same. 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 to gain the maximum value out of the experience. It's like 2 halves of the same coin. Story listening is one part of story dynamics. Story dynamics covers the entire spectrum of storyteller and audience experiences when caught up in a story.

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.

  • Are you using the dynamics of story sharing to connect, build relationships, and collaboration in order to achieve something extraordinary?
  • Are you willing to be vulnerable, and are you willing to be changed by the stories you hear?

2. Speak to current reality. It's a relationship, social, and experiential 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 and transparent in your 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. Storytelling is an inside-out job. A self-aware leader is a resilient leader. Are you asking yourself questions like:

  • What's the story I'm telling myself (about my beliefs, attitudes, values), or what's the story I'm telling about others -- and are these still valid?
  • Where did my stories about power, anger, fear, withdrawal, optimism, openness and assertiveness come from? Are these still valid?
  • How do I rewrite the story to live into a new or revised narrative?
  • What role models do I admire, and what are their stories that I can use to help guide me?

These 5 ways to be are 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!

For coaching or workshops on Storytelling For Influence (for alignment and better decision making), Transformational Leadership (for transforming self and others; leaving a lasting legacy), Data Storytelling (for finding knowledge, understanding, or transformative insights), and Inspiring Presentations (to enroll others in your vision), contact Karen.