Why leaders should be telling stories

Updated: Jul 13, 2020

When we talk about storytelling, most people immediately think it’s something for children. “I use storytelling to get my kids to sleep”.

Storytelling in business should not be underestimated. In fact, it should be used often. A good story can impress, delight, persuade, inspire and teach if used in the right way.

At its heart a leadership story is basically a pitch. You’re asking a people to follow you or do something you want them to do. Framing it as a story gives your narrative a structure that’s easy to understand. You can use emotion to build a connection and a relationship.

Framing a change or an idea into a story can help you humanise it. You can convey vulnerability and struggle and success into something easy to digest.

I like to think that all leaders are effectively storytellers. If we think of some of the best leaders and the biggest brands of today all of them have a narrative. They all have a story and they are all excellent story-tellers.

Obviously, it’s much easier said than done. A lot of effort goes into crafting a strategic story that is going build engagement to your cause. When I’m working on building my story I like to think about 5 questions:

  1. Whose lives are you trying to change?

  2. What’s at stake for them if you succeed or fail?

  3. What does the final destination look like?

  4. What are the barriers to reaching your final destination, and how will you overcome them?

  5. How can you make the story come true? Do you have evidence or facts?

Always remember to provide context and make sure your listeners understand why you’re telling them the story in the first place.

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