They say some people are born leaders. But actually to be a good leader takes work. And one way to be a good leader is to be a great storyteller.
“Telling good stories is important for business because it allows us to provide both our employees and our customers with a context for why and how our products/services can benefit others. It allows us to create a tangible connection between what our employees do and what pain point we’re trying to address through our collective efforts,” explains leadership coach Tanveer Naseer, author ofLeadership Vertigo.
To tell a good story, make it personal. “Draw a connection between what you as a leader (and the organization you work for) need done and outcomes that the troops will believe in,” suggests Lawrence Kane, author of Sensei Mentor Teacher Coach: Powerful Leadership for Leaderless Times.
Choose a purposeful story. “Focus on the task, not on you. While you may use personal experiences to tell the story, you risk looking conceited or foolish if you only focus on yourself or choose the wrong example. Use positive stories of others whenever possible to get points across while simultaneously providing affirmation and recognition for others on your team,” Kane points out. “Speaking to lessons you’ve learned from mistakes can be powerful when done judiciously (and makes you seem more human) but if overdone will cause you to paint yourself in a negative light.”
Be natural in your story telling. “Don’t force it. Storytelling isn’t appropriate for every message or situation. Like any other tool or technique use it for the proper purpose. Think about the audience, media, and available time, as well as predilections and choose whatever you believe will be the most effective method for getting your point across,” says Kane.
Improve your storytelling skills by practicing. “You need to get familiar with both the details and the overall plot so that when you’re telling it, your focus is more on your audience and less on trying to remember what to say next,” says Naseer.
Make a connection with your audience. “You need to have an emotional connection to the story you’re sharing. You can’t share a story from a factual perspective, but rather it has to be something that resonates with you as well. The reason for this is because it’s going to affect how you tell the story–do you really care about the narrative, or are you simply trying to tell stories in order to get the end outcome you’re after? If your employees see that this story resonates with you, that it matters to you because it articulates and illustrates what you want to achieve, it becomes easier for them to become more invested in listening and remembering that story going forward,” explains Naseer.
Learning to make a story compelling will only help your leadership skills. “Storytelling makes us a better leader because it allows us to build connections with those we lead. After all, people don’t connect over data points on a graph, but they do relate to experiences and ideas shared within stories because we can immerse ourselves into that notion or reality,” Naseer points out. “And that ability to reach out and connect our message with our employees at that deeper level makes a more effective leader because we’re not connecting at a more meaningful level because now we’re focusing on how our message is being received by those under our care.”