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Great Leadership Starts with Storytelling

What Is Storytelling in Leadership

Great leadership starts with storytelling in leadership. Not vision. Not strategy. Not even a great SWOT analysis.

It starts with a story because stories provide the motivation and courage to keep us moving forward in life. Think about it. Why do we love epic movies? It’s because the stories touch something deep inside of us and call us to more.

Stories give us hope, provide the framework for a meaningful life, and bring energy to the mundane.

If you desire to lead others, yet know nothing about them, it will be impossible to maximize your leadership. As you begin to understand the who and the what that have impacted the lives of your team, you will develop a clearer understanding of motivations, beliefs, and behaviors that govern their day-to-day.

This understanding will lead to what Patrick Lencioni calls vulnerability-based trust. With increased trust, you can over time increase your influence.

How to Incorporate Storytelling in Leadership

It sounds pretty simple, but it’s profound…and it takes time. In the busyness of work, it can be hard to take the time to have a conversation about something that isn’t directly related to hitting the goal at hand. It’s an investment. You choose to hear the major events that have helped shape a teammate into who they are today.

Think about your own life. Don’t you long to be known and respected for who you are? Would it help those who lead you to understand what truly motivates you? If the answer is yes to either of those questions, sharing your story would be worth your time.

Getting started is simple. You simply process three to five key events that have shaped you into who you are. Write them out. Be appropriately vulnerable. You are at work and not the counselor’s office. After you’ve written them down, try to share them in under ten minutes with a co-worker. This is only the beginning of storytelling in leadership.

If you are a team leader, invite one team member a week to share their story with you. If you are a team member, ask your supervisor if you could share where you’ve come from to help him or her gain a better understanding of what drives you in life.

The people you work with deserve to be known. Leaders who genuinely know and value their employees understand their true desires and, as a result, access deeper motivation and engagement at work. Give it a try!

To help you with this, downloaded our free e-book, “Start with Story:” StartwithStoryWildSparqEbook.