Posts Tagged ‘Forbes’

Culture of Communication Maximizes Employee Engagement

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

According to a recent Gallup poll, over 50 percent of the current workforce is not fully engaged with the company; they simply show up and do what they need to do to keep their jobs–a steady income, in other words–but they do no more than absolutely necessary. What’s worse, nearly 20 percent of employees are “actively disengaged,” which presumably means they “push the envelope” on how little is enough to get by.

Margie Warrell, a leadership coach and author, discusses this woeful situation in an article on Forbes.com. Pointing out the urgent need for effective leadership communication, Warrell says that a leader’s level of interaction with employees makes a huge difference in how the workforce feel about their organization. As she rightly asserts, it’s crucial for a leader to regularly walk through the workplace and talk with employees. Transparent communication that divulges failures as well as successes is at the heart of creating a truly connected workplace, a culture of interdependence and mutual trust. And reminding people that their contributions are valuable inspires lasting commitment.

When people feel connected, they support one another fully and provide top-notch customer service. As Warrell says, “Relationships are the currency of the workplace, and so the stronger a leader’s connections, the better placed they will be to engage their employees…. Only when leaders demonstrate the courage they wish to see in those around them will they be able to unleash the human potential within their teams and organization, tap ingenuity,  raise the bar on innovation and optimize the value their organization contributes to all of it’s stakeholders.”

Stories are the best way for a leader to make those essential connections: stories that envision the future and make it palpable; stories that remind people of successes, both past and current;  stories about “lessons learned,” including those that describe mistakes the leader has made–and that have shaped the leader.

Over the past 21+ years, during which I’ve led hundreds of Corporate Storytelling workshops and delivered tens of keynotes, I’ve seen thousands of people light up when they experience the power of story. It’s the way humans derive meaning about life, from daily routines to remarkable accomplishments. Stories are the way we learn about one another, discover shared values and appreciate how much we can accomplish together.

Leaders who leverage the power of story with clear, consistent communication are sure to beat the competition. Their workforce will be fully engaged and committed to doing whatever it takes to realize the vision.

Meaningful Storytelling A Top Responsibility of Leadership

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

An engaging article in “Forbes” online recently featured a discussion by David Slocum, professor at the Berlin School of Creative Leadership. Slocum analyzes the Hollywood version of business stories, as illustrated in the hit movie, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” with stories that exemplify authentic leadership. Slocum’s cogent article contrasts the “simple and dramatic” approach used by moviemakers (and arguably, rightly so if they want to succeed at the box office) versus the qualities that, in fact, are essential elements for effective storytelling in organizations.

Clearly dissecting the main character’s selective editing of his own story, Slocum points out that when Jordan Belfort wrote his book, on which the movie is based, he chose not to focus on how he made a fortune in penny stocks by manipulating the market–a transgresson for which he was convicted of securities fraud and money laundering. Instead, Belfort concentrated on describing the personal excesses of high living and wild partying afforded by the tens of millions he raked in. Likewise, the movie plays up the salacious details of a life run amok.

As Slocum explains, while businesses need to stay true to their mission, they also must adapt to market changes. Accordingly, their”…stories should convey essential truths about the business they describe while still having rough edges and opening out to continuing interaction.” The professor sums up by saying, “Although that doesn’t necessarily work in Hollywood’s scripts and productions, such openness and adaptability in meaningful storytelling about organizations and business activities are among the paramount responsibilities – and most powerful opportunities – of real leadership.”

Do you agree? Tell us what you think about how flexible businesses should be, or need to be, with their storytelling.