Leadership as story telling – and every leader has a story to tell and tells it
Every leader has a story to tell and every leader tells one – even if it is that they are reclusive and disconnected from the day to day working experience of their employees. And every employee comes to have stories of their own that come from their experience with the business they work for. And this includes stories that convey experience gained and shared within the business itself, and stories about working with clients, suppliers and others from the outside community. The basic tenor of these stories reflects the overall culture of the business. The content and the of these stories help to shape and reinforce the corporate culture and helps form a sense of corporate identity. It serves to build a community out of an assortment of distinct personalities.
• It is important that a leader of a business know what stories they are telling, and that they understand that they are in fact tell stories as an ongoing narrative to everyone who looks to them for leadership and guidance.
• It is important that a leader listen to the ongoing narrative going on around them – the stories that their employees share about their experience with the business and how those stories reflect the business and its values.
As a leader are you conveying a positive and supportive message, a negative and divisive message, a mixed message? Are you saying one thing but doing something else – do your words and statements convey one message but your stories coming from what you actually do say something at odds with that? Ultimately the stories that we tell from our words and actions are all about values and priorities. And consistency conveys integrity – or rather ongoing inconsistency strongly raises questions about that. Any sense of “do as I say and not as I do” or of double standards convey a compelling message of trouble. Sincerity compels where slick might simply draw attention.
Know the stories that you share, and from the perspective of those around you where possible. Listen to the flow of stories around you and as a best practices suggestion, repeat and re-share the more positive and as coming from members of your employee community, that they highlight the best of the organization and its principles. And give direct and specific credit to the people who through their performance, made those stories real.
I offer this as a thought piece and as a part of a loosely organized and even informal series that I have been posting to across several of my blog directories (see Business Strategy and Operations and its continuation page, HR and Personnel, and my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development and its continuation page.) I am sure to come back to this general set of issues again.