“What’s your story?”
It’s a question that’s pregnant with possibilities. It can be posed as a accusation or as a sincere expression of interests. But when it comes to telling their “story,” many leaders find it hard to express stories about their organizational culture, mission, challenges or victories. Such leaders often fail to see the value of a well-told tale when it comes to engaging an audience, resorting to email as a means of so-called “communication” with their stakeholders. They miss the primary value of story-telling when it comes to communication. So what’s that?
It’s the opportunity to, as one writer puts it, to “make me care” as a part of your audience. When we coach leaders about communication we often have to remind them that they are on a quest to win both the hearts and minds of their stakeholders. As leaders, we have to find what is important to our stakeholders and connect with the passions, concerns, fears, or hopes, and dreams in meaningful ways if we want to engage an audience, a customer, or an employee. In short, great communicators make people feel a connection with the message they’re hearing.
Over the years, we’ve asked leaders to share a story about something about their organizational values and mission. We normally hear vague references to integrity, or hard work, agility, or even how much their organization values people. But when asked to share an example of how that value has been born out in their organization in the last 30 days, we’re surprised at how few can do so.
So the next time you’re about to write that email, address that audience, or meet with that client, ask yourself one question. What do they care about? Whatever message you’re trying to craft will be far more likely to connect if you begin there, rather than if you lead and discuss only what you care about. We will talk more about this in our next few blog posts as we address how it can help create change in your organization, building your strategic plans, or even how it will improve your sales effectiveness and customer satisfaction.
Until then, if you’d like to know more about our executive coaching, strategic planning, or leadership and sales process consulting work, email Principal Consultant, Jim Owens, at firstname.lastname@example.org.