By Micki Lewis MS, PCC, CPLP

Does the word SKEPTIC resonate with you when you hear the word storytelling? I have to admit it – previously I was a disbeliever! Now I’ve turned around my perspective 180⁰ when it comes to the value of Storytelling, especially in being an effective Leader.

3 Reasons Storytelling is Crucial[1]

  1.  Stories are Memorable
  2. Stories Travel Further
  3. Stories Inspire Action

As we know from history, Storytelling precedes writing.  It was the record-keeping from ancient cultures, religions and family traditions.  People took pride in memorizing their stories.

Storytelling  has a way of sharing experiences. It helps with understanding.  Storytelling can be adaptive for all generations.

According to Wikipedia[2], “Stories tend to be based on experiential learning, but learning from an experience is not automatic. Often a person needs to attempt to tell the story of that experience before realizing its value. In this case, it is not only the listener who learns, but the teller who also becomes aware of his or her own unique experiences and background.

This process of storytelling is empowering as the teller effectively conveys ideas and, with practice, is able to demonstrate the potential of human accomplishment. Storytelling taps into existing knowledge and creates bridges both culturally and motivationally toward a solution.”

 

Within the workplace, Storytelling offers more than just “DRY FACTS.”  Below are 3 ways of how Storytelling supports leaders:

Managing Conflicts

Sometimes the direct way is not the appropriate way in dealing with conflicts, stories help support and indirectly say what needs to be said.  Storytelling is an important methodology to handle and resolving struggles and address problems.

 

Interpret the past and shape the future

A story can bring together groups or teams.  Ideally, leaders and their teams co create their own story and create the future of where they want to go as a blueprint to their success.

 

A Reasoning Process

Storytelling plays an important role in influencing others.  It gives more depth to reason. At your next meeting, plan to add in a story to give it more depth vs. just numbers.  Ask:  What is important about these numbers? … then give a story of how it supports.

Mr. Paul Smith, author of How to Use Storytelling as a Leadership Tool offers us these key elements to elevate a good story into a great story:

7 Elements to turn a Good Story into a Great Story[3]

  1.  Start with the context.
  2. Use metaphors and analogies.
  3. Appeal to emotion.
  4. Keep it tangible and concrete.
  5. Include a surprise.
  6. Use a narrative style appropriate for business.Be concise and to the point. Business narratives should be 3-5 minutes long. Leave the long soliloquy for your first screenplay.
  7. Move beyond telling your audience a story to creating a scene or event for them to participate in.

Leader Coaching Next Steps 

Do some prep work.  Uncover key projects / moments from your past that ended up being both successful and unsuccessful.  Sometimes the failed ones offer us more profound learning.  Use the tools and resources above to frame out and have in your back pocket, enhancing the point you want to make.  Yes, it will take some time to carve out of your schedule to pause and uncover some significant moments – AND… it will be well worth your effort in the long run.  You will be seen as being a more “real” and sincere leader.

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For help with crafting your next important stories, contact Micki for a consult today.

 

 

[1] https://www.inc.com/riley-gibson/3-reasons-every-start-up-should-tell-more-stories.html

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storytelling

[3] How to Use Storytelling as a Leadership Tool  https://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2012/08/13/how-to-use-storytelling-as-a-leadership-tool/#1ef757015e8e by Paul Smith (Lead with a Story:  A guide to Crafting Business Narratives that Captivate, Convince, and Inspire (AMACOM Books, August 2012.