Archive for June, 2013

The Mystery of Storytelling Revealed

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013
Every organization needs a corporate story--and needs to breathe life into it by telling it continuously.

Every organization needs a corporate story–and needs to breathe life into it by telling it continuously.

How can stories be used in organizations? Even though the practice of storytelling has virtually exploded all around the globe in recent years, many people are still puzzled about how to use stories in their communications. After 20 years of leading Corporate Storytelling® workshops, I’m surprised that the practice is still mysterious to so many people.

There is any number of ways that businesses, NGOs and governmental agencies–not to mention people in everyday life–can leverage the power of story. Storytelling is, after all, a communication tool, and communication is central to human interactions. When you need to communicate, there’s often a way to leverage the power of story. Use a story

  • to attract investors, donors and employees
  • to persuade people to a point of view
  • to galvanize support among stakeholders
  • to inspire
  • to inform
  • to build a cohesive team
  • to nurture a culture
  • to teach a lesson
  • to heal
  • to enliven historic events and people
  • to explain the rationale behind a decision
  • to breathe life into a vision
  • keep people focused on a mission
  •  to demonstrate how a product or service improves or even saves lives
  • to explain how a product or services makes everyday activities easier
  • to underscore core values

And, of course, there’s at least one more use for stories that’s familiar to everyone: entertainment. We regularly share amusing stories with friends, family, co-workers and people we encounter in all areas of daily life. Leaders who understand the power of humor recognize that entertainment plays an important role in organizations. They know when to include a lighthearted tale to relieve tension in difficult times and how to incorporate fun stories when it’s time to celebrate.

Our days are filled with opportunities for storytelling. So what are you waiting for? Tell your stories!

 

Creating Culture Is Most Important Job of A Leader

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

At Inc.’s annual Leadership Forum this week, CitiStorage Founder Norm Brodsky related both his successes and failures as a leader. The two top lessons he learned: 1) Leadership communication does not mean yelling at people and maintaining tight control over them, and 2) a leader’s most important job is to create a strong culture. And, I would add, storytelling is a key leadership communication tool for doing just that.

In an article by Issie Lapowsky posted yesterday on Inc.’s blog, Brodsky said in his first business, “If an employee messed up, I yelled at them or fired them. I was a control freak.” He credits his wife with helping him learn better ways of interacting with people and developing better leadership skills. When he started CitiStorage, he told the audience, he focused on building a strong culture–one that emphasizes ways to help employees succeed.

He realized by then that the way he treated employees and the benefits he offered were as important as the way he treated customers. “It’s all part of culture,” he said. “When you have a warm nurturing culture people like, they’ll stay with you.”

The companies featured in Around the Corporate Campfire: How Great Leaders Use Stories to Inspire Success bear this out. Storytelling companies recognize the importance of taking good care of their employees as well as their customers–and their use of stories serves is part of the glue that binds everyone together. Most of the companies’ employee turnover rate is among the lowest in their industry.

Stories Are Powerful Tools for Shaping Culture

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Siemens is truly a storytelling culture–one that tells stories deliberateSiemens AGly in a number of ways. One purpose is to build and shape the corporate culture. In an interview with Keith Ritchie, Siemens’ official storyteller, “Marketing” relates how the company has used stories to emphasize safety practices.

“… we want a change of mindset so that people actually want to be safe, “Ritchie explains. “To do that, you’ve got to make an emotional connection, and the best way to make an emotional connection is through storytelling.” He goes on to tell about one employee who volunteered to describe how he lost an eye when he was an apprentice. He became part of a video series, “This Is My Safety Story.’ Ritchie says the man’s story–as well as others in the series–is powerful because “it’s authentic, it’s coming from a person, it’s not a manager telling you how you have to be safe….”

What are the current top-of-mind issues and concerns in your organization? How can you use stories to ensure that employees understand not only what’s important but why it’s important?