Posts Tagged ‘leadership storytelling’

Employee Engagement, Culture, Leadership Top Issues in 2015

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

2015 Predictions by Bersin In his “Predictions for 2015” report for Deloitte Consulting LLC, Josh Bersin underscores the need for organizations to re-direct their focus on employee engagement, corporate culture and leadership. Why? Many employees are “overwhelmed” and employee engagement and retention is at an all-time low.

“While many people are still looking for work, more and more people are getting fed up with the 24/7 work environment…so they go to social websites like LinkedIn or”– and they get job offers. The companies that win the competition for the best and brightest employees are those that are “focused on mission, culture, and leadership,” Bersin says.  “They understand that people are not ‘talent'”; rather, the most desirable companies to work understand that employees are fully-developed people who have “their own personal needs and aspirations.”

I would add that the following leadership communication practices are highly effective tools for accomplishing Bersin’s recommended goals:

  1. Establishing personal connections with employees through regular direct contact
  2. Communicating clearly and consistently about mission, values and goals, and
  3. Demonstrating vulnerability by sharing stories from the leader’s own experiences to impart important lessons learned

A writer on the ever-changing landscape of business-driven learning, HR and talent management, he bases these views on a survey by It reveals clear differences between companies where employees are highly engaged and those where employees are actively disengaged.

Bersin says that the transformation he sees in today’s workforce is the most dramatic he’s seen in years. He says the main drivers for business success are “Engagement, Experience, and Environment… because ultimately employee engagement is all a business has.” He calls on leaders to direct their energies to building “highly engaged teams” along with achieving the desired business results, and his report includes guidelines on how to make this critical shift.

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.


Video Interview on Storytelling

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Video is by nature an especially powerful storytelling medium, and yet it’s one many of us who are writers tend to overlook. David Hutchens, a Tennessee-based ad copywriter who has become a corporate writer and book author is an exception. He’s recorded an engaging and informative interview with Paul Smith, author of Lead with a Story, on the use of leadership storytelling and applications of stories in organizations See it here:

Leadership Communication Is Key to Successful Change

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Insufficient communication is second only to fear of change or failure as a major stumbling block to successful change in organizations. According to a global survey of nearly 1,100 managers conducted by New Catalyst, LLC, it’s essential for leaders to “constantly communicate” before, during and after attempting to implement a significant change.

Constant communication is the way to gain “employee support and trust,” which is essential for a change “to stand any chance of success,” say the authors of the survey, Kelly Nwosu and Nick Anderson. I totally agree. As I emphasize to clients during my speaking and consulting engagements, it’s more important than ever to communicate regularly–even daily–during times of change and any other period that might be described as a crisis.

New Catalyst found that there are three primary messages for leaders to focus on in order to gain employee support for upcoming change. Those three messages must be clear explanations of the why, the how and the benefits of the change.

As a participant in one of my storytelling workshops for sales managers observed, “People aren’t afraid of change per se; they’re afraid that they aren’t prepared for change.” When a leadership repeatedly reassures everyone by explaining 1) the reasons for the change; 2) how it will be accomplished (including the specific role for each division, and cascading down, each person); and 3) the benefits of the change for the organization and everyone affected by it, the odds of success skyrocket.

Creating Inspirational Leaders in the Lab?

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

In an effort to understand what makes a leader inspirational, researchers are hoping to be able to identify areas of the brain that are different in those who are inspirational–and then to use neurofeedback to develop similar wiring in others in order to develop more charismatic leaders. So far, their research findings are promising.

As reported in the “Academy of Management Perspectives,” researchers have identified the area of the brain that helps form “socialized visionary communication,” which in turn helps followers to perceive a leader as inspirational or charismatic. What do you think about this? Is it reassuring to think that a person’s wiring can be manipulated this way? Or a bit frightening to realize how close we’re getting to the sci-fi scenarios described in Brave New World?