Why Story Telling Is An Important Managerial Skill
We all like stories: think back to when you were a child and all of the different stories that you heard and which inspired you, made you sad, intrigued, interested and some which inspired you. The truth is that all adults still like stories, perhaps not in the same format as when we were young, but they still have power and resonate through our lives.
Leaders create a vision and good leaders use stories to make this happen: messages that staff recognise and readily sign up to.
Good stories touch our emotions; they inspire us and are strong vehicle for change, can motivate us to achieve higher goals and can effectively challenge the status quo.
Every workplace is full of stories, tales of innovation, triumph and success and unexpected successes in the face of adversity. One hundred employees will each give you a range of different stories from within the body of the company so the range of emotions and perceptions is huge.
Good managers use stories to recognise just how good some employees actually are, highlighting their methods, dedication and outcomes for other members of the team to follow and develop further.
Another good use of the story idea is for the manager to promote personal development and progression within their team: what worked for me will, or might, work for you!
So, what makes your story good for others to hear and for them to use?
- The story must be authentic and you must also be both authentic and credible: people listening must see this before even considering the message and its contents.
- Leaders and managers MUST live the story through their everyday actions and decisions: your words must match your actions and deliverables.
- The story may be a “one-off” but it must resonate with your actions and everyday set of actions and behaviours.
- Make sure that your story respects and reflects the opinions and views of your audience. Know and understand the needs of the audience in terms of when and how to, perhaps, lift their spirits in difficult times, when to be challenging and when to be supportive.
How good stories work.
- They are short and simple so that the message is very easy to pick up and understand, remember and retell to others.
- They should be creative and exciting with a range of methods and need not always follow a timeline – reflecting back and teasing out issues is a good technique.
- Link the message into the here and now – currency and relevance is very important.
- Start with emotion and then link this into a practical scenario or current issue.
- Make sure that your message is clear and concise.
- Live the story: people never respect or willingly follow a manager whose message is not seen in their daily actions and routines.
The next time you are faced with a management challenge consider how the storytelling approach can work to unlock commitment and motivation from the team.
We all like stories, no matter our age or position.
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