The Value of Storytelling in Business

“The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. The storyteller sets the vision, values and agenda of an entire generation that is to come.”

– Steve Jobs

There are a multitude of qualities that define successful leadership, but perhaps one of the more important aspects of an impactful leader is the ability to keep others engaged. Leaders who are able to maintain a certain level of honest engagement build a sense of trust and camaraderie that allows them to lead more effectively. Both originating and maintaining this dynamic can be difficult (especially when it seems forced), but there are a variety of ways to develop the engagement necessary, chiefly among them: storytelling.

Storytelling can mean a variety of things. For some it is seen as entertainment, for others, simple communication. The essence of storytelling, at least as it pertains to business, is connection. Effective storytelling should be applied in order to create a connection with those you lead. Sometimes that is a personal anecdote, other times it is the careful relaying of information. Either way, storytelling should serve to better your relationship and communicative rapport with others. Conversation in this regard should be a two-way street, even if the nature is strictly business.

In light of this, it is important to understand the key to storytelling: listening. Engagement comes with both parties feeling like they are actively involved in present and future interactions. Listening in this regard means being quiet and attentive when others are speaking, yes. But it also means showing the other person attentiveness when you are speaking to yourself. This can come in the form of asking clarifying questions or molding whatever information you originally intended to convey around what they have said instead of yourself. And even when talking about yourself, you can still shape it in a way that it reflects an aspect of the person you are engaged with, forging a stronger connection while still advancing the conversation to its original purpose.

People want to be captivated, but they also want to feel valued and respected. Storytelling, in this respect, must be applied in a way that not only engages those you lead, but also enriches the working relationship between the two parties. Having people around you and your business that are able to stay focused with both your direction and their own responsibilities, only puts you in a better position to succeed.

Kelly D. Scott
Chairman/CEO
The world’s leading business advisory and executive coaching organization

Cultivating System-Wide Accountability

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

– Henry Ford

As a leader, a strong sense of personal accountability is a must. A primary component of leadership is the ability to influence and garner respect with those you lead. Without accountability, a leader cannot build the trust necessary to achieve success as a collective. Focusing on personal accountability does take effort but is a very manageable responsibility, but what about cultivating accountability for your entire organization? This can be a difficult task, especially those who don’t have the experience in developing accountability in others.

Many of our country’s most successful organizations carry out system-wide accountability. There is an understanding that achieving this sense of accountability isn’t easy, especially in dealing with a wide variety of employees as well as the increasingly dynamic environments of the modern age. However, the organizations that find the most success make accountability a focus in all areas of business.

Elements of the discipline developed in military-like organizations can certainly be translated into your leadership practices. Of course, not necessarily the physical rigor of a soldier, but a strong sense of discipline when it comes to developing accountability for your organization. There should be clear, focused goals and responsibilities communicated to every person in which you lead, so that your entire organization can work as one unit in achieving the desired success.

Learning from highly disciplined and accountable organizations can help better fortify your business against the ever-changing disarray of business. Whatever the method for stronger accountability may be, being proactive and actionable in your leadership is the key for improvement. Most importantly, making sure this accountability is an organizational focus, not just a personal one, puts you and your business in the best position for success.

Kelly D. Scott
Chairman/CEO
The world’s leading business advisory and executive coaching organization

Eliminating Distractions

“It’s only by saying “No” that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”

– Steve Jobs

Daily distractions seem to come in infinite forms nowadays. More and more, the average working individual is spending their time looking from one screen to another. The very tools that are required for business and communication (personal computers, smart phones, etc.) are the same devices that can lead to unproductive habits that are harmful for that very business they are trying to conduct. It’s not enough anymore to simply identify technology and other things as means for potential distractions. In the modern era, every leader and working person should regularly evaluate their daily distractions and have actionable plans in which to combat them.

Most modern smartphones have built-in screen time tracking applications. These apps can show you not only the total time you spend looking at your phone every day, but also the time per application (and overall percentages) of your various apps. This can take the whole “I’m just using my phone for work” excuse out of the picture because it can reveal how much time you may be spending on social media or other non-work-related apps. Having data like this can put you in a better position to identify and eliminate distractions that may have been unknown to you previously.

Understanding your smartphone usage shouldn’t be the end point in exploring how to eliminate distractions. It can be most effective to consider of all the devices or other distractions you recognize during the day. Recognizing you spend half an hour on Facebook isn’t a huge deal, but when you put it in perspective with all the other things you could be potentially wasting time with, that 30 minutes combines with hours of unproductivity spread across small bursts of other time wasters.

It’s important to not initially take a drastic approach when taking care of distractions. Trying to eliminate everything at once can be unsustainable and ultimately cause too much mental stress. But recognizing minor changes you can make to improve productivity, whether it’s deleting certain apps during the workday, or installing web tools that put a cap on certain time-wasting sites, can go a long way in increasing your efficiency. Whatever your methods may be to home in on your duties as a leader, never get complacent, and always be looking for ways to improve your day to day and beyond.

Kelly D. Scott
Chairman/CEO
The world’s leading business advisory and executive coaching organization

The Importance of Community Interaction

“Companies and leaders are role models – not just with the business community – but in the broader world.”

– Chip Conley

There are numerous ways to get your company more involved with the community but knowing where to start can be difficult to some. Thankfully, in the modern age community involvement is easier now than ever. Not only is access to your local community made easier through technology, but also the number of ways you can affect the community has increased substantially.

Sometimes inserting yourself into the local community is just a matter of communication. Starting a blog or writing a newspaper/local magazine article can help others get to know you and your business in a more intimate way. Many times, the obstacle to your business isn’t your actual business, but rather brand awareness. Helping your community better understand what you stand for and how your services can benefit their lives can go a long way.

Other options include sponsoring other local businesses and sports teams or eliciting jobs/internships from people within your community. Becoming a sponsor not only helps local facilities thrive (and therefore the community) but it also increases awareness of your business and values. Sponsorship can and should extend to local charitable organization as well, which, of course, make a direct positive impact on your community.

Helping cultivate a better community not only has a positive effect on those who live within your community, but also grows your business, increases employee morale, and demonstrates your company’s values to the surrounding community. Community involvement can be a company wide effort. The team building and overall positive effect on your local communities only better ensures your path to success.

Kelly D. Scott
Chairman/CEO
The world’s leading business advisory and executive coaching organization