Leadership isn’t an easy task. Any skills which you can pick up along your career path which could help in any way, shape or form are like gold dust, and storytelling, while it might seem a little ‘out there’ and unorthodox, is actually an amazing tool which you can use to keep your team connected and working productively. If you feel a little alienated from your staff, stories, whether from yourself or just encouraged by you and shared by others, can help to bridge the gaps between different cultures, backgrounds, and values. This can help to create a workplace without friction, which is much more positive and better for everyone involved. But how can you weave storytelling into your leadership style?
Anecdotes are often the best way to help someone learn. It gives them an example to remember, which might be funny or unusual, which will stick in their mind and help them to remember the lesson the next time it is relevant. If you’ve got a group of staff members who need to get their heads around a certain task or set of instructions, trying to think of a story which you have – or asking around for an experienced member of your team who may have a good story – which is relevant can be extremely beneficial to helping your team learn whatever they need to, and keep it in their long-term memory.
Passion & Enthusiasm
“Not only are stories amazing for educational purposes, but they also help you to show your team just how passionate you are about your work, increasing morale overall!” Josh Griffiths, a communication manager at Britstudent and 1Day2Write, says. “Imagine if your boss just spoke in a monotone, constantly, and never said anything other than lines that could’ve been written down in a script. ‘Get me this, do this paperwork, go to place X, Y and X.’. You would be bored, and your work would show this! But if your boss told you an amazing story related to your work, and always had a little anecdote to add to every task, you’d feel motivated throughout your workday and produce much better work. The reasoning behind it is simple, once you think about it!”
Workers who don’t talk to each other don’t work as well as they could – this is a well-known management problem. Generally, there is no way to ‘force’ people to form relationships and bonds, but you as a leader can help to nurture the blossoming friendships between co-workers with the power of storytelling. Stories can connect people, and, even better than you telling stories, your influence may lead others to tell stories, which creates bonds between your team, making leadership much easier. They will hold a connection with you and each other, making their work better and your job as a leader more easily successful.
“Sometimes, your position as a leader can ruin your appearance as a fellow human to your team. Putting yourself on a pedestal – whether intentionally or not – can make your team feel disconnected from you, making work difficult, since your staff members may harbor some form of resentment towards you,” Chelsea McBrian, a business writer at Australia2Write and NextCoursework, states, “but storytelling can help to make you appear more human towards your staff. Once they realize that you have had experiences and life events which have affected you just as much as theirs have affected them, they may start to look at you in a different light, removing any friction which may have existed between you and them.”
Storytelling is an amazing tool when used correctly. If you’re literally reading a story from a piece of paper, this won’t do much for your team, and they’ll most likely view you with even more contempt than before you tried this method. However, if you tell genuine stories with a passionate voice and hand gestures – a common mark of authenticity – which come from the heart, at relevant moments, then it will increase your leadership abilities by an amazing amount. Working with your team, instead of just giving them bland orders and tasks, can be helped by storytelling, and enhancing your leadership with this skill will do wonders for your team’s work ethic and ability to produce results.