“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
The world’s leading business advisory and executive coaching organization