Storytelling for Leaders
I used to always wonder what the difference between a boss & a leader was.
For the longest time, I thought they were the same thing.
If you are a boss, then you are a leader. And if you are a leader, then you are a boss.
The answer is, no.
A boss is a title and a leader is a role.
I remember I learned the difference between the 2 once I entered the workforce.
Your boy got a first-hand look into what leadership was about & what it wasn’t about.
Want to know what I saw all leaders have in common?
They all knew the value of storytelling.
It’s like they took a class on ‘Storytelling for Leaders’ or something.
Who knows, maybe they did.
Ultimately, the point is, a leader KNOWS a story is a weapon.
It’s a subtle way to inspire, educate and inform.
You just need to make sure it is in your arsenal.
The Difference Between a Boss and a Leader
Earlier, I was stating that a boss is a title.
It simply implies that they are in a higher position than the team that they have control over.
In one of my jobs, I had a manager named Mike.
Mike was a boss, not a leader.
He would typically come to the office, tell the team what to do, make sure they did it & call it a day.
Our meetings consisted of metrics, next milestones, and charts.
However, Mike’s manager was a fellow named Ed.
Ed was different.
Ed was a boss AND a leader.
He had a vision that he knew how to eloquently state via a story.
Then he would let US decide whether or not we wanted to join him.
His vision was so riveting, that you’d be an idiot not to join.
Rather than him pulling us towards him, he shared his vision & allowed us to join him on our own.
He did that by capturing our imagination and emotions via a story.
Why Storytelling is Important for Leaders.
You need to be more aware of the era that we are currently living in.
‘And which era is that bucko?’
We are living in the data & information age.
‘Aren’t data and information the same?’
Data is unstructured content.
Information is structured data representing a pattern, insight or story.
Data alone is useless.
Unless the data is structured with meaning & transformed into information, then you got nothing homie.
The problem is that many leaders have the data mindset.
Their leadership styles are unstructured.
Just yapping away giving commands and milestones. A bunch of data.
But they never represent the big vision via a story. The information.
As a boss, you may know the big vision because you are attending different meetings than your workers.
But unless your workers know the big vision, then they will view the assigned tasks as ‘busy work.’
Busy work is how your employees lose morale & eventually begin dragging their feet.
Storytelling is more important than ever because our era is FLOODED with data.
They don’t need any more.
For you to stick out like a diamond in the rough, you need to be doing the exact opposite of what others are doing.
While most reach for the powerpoint, you need to be reaching for a fiction book to keep your storytelling muscle strong.
How Leaders Should Sharpen their Storytelling
If I were to tell you to pick me up & didn’t give you the destination, what would you do?
‘I’d be driving around in circles.’
Would you feel confident that you’re headed in the right direction?
‘Because I don’t have the end in mind.’
Your goal as the leader is to design a story for the grand vision of the project.
Not the milestones, budget, and all that crap.
But rather the end goal.
You can represent the end goal via a story about your past.
Personal stories are big because it allows the audience to connect to you on a deeper level.
You can represent the end goal via a story about how far the company has come.
Many people work for a company but have no clue about its history.
My former manager Ed, gathered all the big players in the room and gave us his vision.
His end goal was to change up the IT industry in our company by introducing some new roles, and making our systems less chaotic.
He emphasized that this would require a lot of work in the initial stages.
Mainly because we were changing up our industry.
Normally, we would have gotten annoyed because that meant more work for us.
But he framed it in a way where ALL the workers in the team mattered.
We were all serving our role in disrupting an industry & in many ways, serving as revolutionaries.
This gave us hope.
For a leader to start sharpening their storytelling, you need to consume & create stories.
Nothing too difficult.
Read more fiction (my favorite is Dune) & get your brain feeling flexible.
Then tell stories about the most mundane of topics.
Try out the 1-minute story.
You really just need a character, conflict, and resolution.
Practice over & over and the storytelling muscle will sharpen.
Once you have your team on the same side as you in terms of vision, then you can introduce the low-level details in future meetings.
But first, give them a peek into what to expect.
Storytelling as a Culture
Many CEOs nowadays are collaborating with screenwriters.
This may seem comical to you, but it is strategic for the CEO.
They know if they want a healthy gap among the competition, then they NEED to have their employee’s ears.
And the best way into their ears is via their imagination and their heart.
Master those 2 elements & people will be glued to you.
The higher up you are in the leadership chain, the more you are required to be an effective communicator.
Ultimately, it is you who will be driving change via your words & conviction.
Therefore, keep sharpening this skillset.
No one likes being lectured. We are all adults.
However, everyone likes being told a story.
We have such hectic lives as we continue to grow, that it’s often a breath of fresh air to escape into a new world via a story.
Evolve into a leader by being a top storyteller in your industry.