Monthly Archives: August 2020

Story Telling by Leaders


Storytelling at Work

A young girl was visiting the Disneyland theme park with her mother when she threw her Belle doll in the air, and it landed in a fenced-off construction zone. Recognizing the girl’s distress, several employees from security, merchandising and guest services worked together to retrieve the doll.fullsizeoutput_4344

They discovered the doll in terrible condition. Its clothes had been ripped, and it was covered in mud. Even worse, they found out it was a discontinued model. They sent the doll to the costume design department to be spruced up. When the family returned to their hotel room at the end of the day, they were greeted with the newly outfitted doll and an invitation for tea with the “real” Belle.

For years, Disney has shared this story across the organization as an example of employee behavior that supports Disney’s culture of delighting and creating happiness for each guest. That Disney embraces storytelling as a leadership and culture tool should come as no surprise; Walt Disney was a master storyteller. they recommended persuasion His legacy and the thriving company culture he left behind sprang from his vision, leadership and storytelling abilities — and the beliefs that became cultural cornerstones thanks to this cohesive narrative.

Within the company, Disney told stories that mobilized employees around his vision. This storytelling practice has fostered a guest-centric corporate cultureimbued with creativity and innovation that has led to sustained success. He empowered employees to use their own stories to connect to the customer experience, making way for stories like the girl and her Belle doll to live on and work their magic in the organization.

Teaching Storytelling to Leaders

For stories to have the ultimate impact, it is critical that training and development leaders work with organizational leaders to develop their strategic storytelling skills. Teach leaders three fundamentals of storytelling to create alignment around desired behaviors, reinforce critical beliefs and drive your organizational culture forward.

1. Choose the right story, and make the connection.

Great stories have a beginning, middle and end, but for leaders to create a vision for their team, there’s more. Not all stories are created equal, and some stories can create change that works against an organization. Therefore, it’s critical for leaders to be intentional about the stories they tell.

Choose stories that clearly demonstrate and reinforce desired behaviors while linking back to organizational priorities and desired results. For example, if a desired result is to foster a culture of creative problem-solvers, look for examples within the organization, such as an employee who confidently voiced his or her opinion and drove the team toward an innovative solution.

It’s also important to deeply engage employees with compelling stories that invite people to suspend their beliefs long enough to disrupt the status quo and create positive movement.

2. Be brief, and aim to go viral.

All it takes to deliver a powerful story is 45 seconds. Storytellers who drone on risk losing an audience’s attention. After observing and testing this technique for almost 30 years, it is clear that a short, memorable story has a better chance of being retold by employees across an organization.

Keeping a story to 45 seconds is especially important considering evidence of declining attention spans; a recent Microsoft study suggests that humans may have attention spans as brief as eight seconds. This time limit should also be welcome news for busy leaders in your organization; anyone can spare 45 seconds.

Have leaders practice this storytelling technique, building from a punchy hook that captures attention and investment from the get-go. Within 45 seconds, the audience should comprehend the story, feel comfortable repeating the story and be clear on the point of the story. If the storyteller accomplishes these three Cs, the story has a better chance of being shared and working its magic across the organization.

3. Conclude with a clear connection that reinforces the desired behavior.

Once a story invites an audience to suspend any beliefs that were getting in the way, create real movement by concluding with a simple phrase that reinforces the desired behavior. You might say, “That’s what innovation looks like to me,” or “That’s what good communication looks like to me.”

Using the term “looks like” instead of “feels like” communicates that the desired behavior is already occurring in the organization. It encourages employees to observe and take note of similar instances in their day-to-day work.

The Lasting Impact of Storytelling

Effective storytelling helps leaders create a unified vision around desired beliefs and actions, driving adoption and buy-in for the results that matter most to your organization. Stories break through impediments to change; shape new, learning mindsets; and inspire employees to adopt new behaviors that drive desired results.

Develop a leader’s ability to deliver effective stories that emphasize clarity and brevity. Once leaders have perfected their storytelling delivery, encourage them to share stories as often as they can. The more stories shared through the organization, the more effectively they reinforce behaviors critical to organizational success.



Move from Paralysis to Activation

Before a person can take positive action and move forward, he or she must first understand the facts. Positive broadcasters try to realistically assess situations, while actively looking for fueling facts, or real conditions that give a person hope and a sense of empowerment in a stressful or seemingly hopeless situation. Those who want to fact-check a story or situation should follow three steps:


1. Isolate the stressful thoughts. By understanding what the real worries are, a person can avoid making the worries bigger.

2. List the facts. Listing the supporting evidence for the worries helps a person understand the situation better and feel as though he or she has the chance to vent.

3. List fueling facts that illuminate a new story. By searching for facts that are equally true, but tell a different story, a person can see the situation in a different way.

Positive broadcasters can identify fueling facts by focusing on GPS areas:

1. Get an accurate time frame. The challenge may be temporary, or it may be broken up into phases.

2. Pinpoint the smallest domain. Focus on the area of the stress, and do not let it creep into other areas of life.

3. Scan for resources and past achievements. People are better at tackling challenges when they can pinpoint and utilize resources. It also helps to make a list of past wins and achievements.

Another way to discover fueling facts is by making one of three changes:

1. Add a fact. Sometimes one fact can change the story. For example, an employee who believes his or her manager has been distant lately might change his or her mind if it is revealed that the manager’s spouse has been sick.

2. Subtract a fact. Removing a fact can help reveal new possibilities. If a person is worried about having enough money for retirement, he or she should consider that some part of the current situation could change. For example, he or she could move to a different location that is less expensive.

3. Reverse a fact. Focusing on an equally true but opposite fact can change one’s perspective. For example, when a sales team falls just short of a goal, a leader should reward them for their progress, rather than call it a failure.

Spark Positive Thinking with Questions


Questions that are crafted and timed well can change people’s stories, habits, and motivations in a powerful way. There are four major types of questions that promote positive change:


Appreciation leading to positivity

1. Digging for gold. Successful positive broadcasters know how to gather information by asking open-ended questions. Just asking “why?” can yield beneficial information.

2. Shifting the focus. By using the appreciative inquiry (AI) approach, those who want to become positive broadcasters can help shift the focus of a conversation from negative to positive. Examples of AI questions include:

*When are you at your best?

*What are your three greatest strengths?

*What was the best part of your day?

3. Next best. This sort of question is used when there are negatives beyond a person’s control. It helps all parties make the best of a bad situation by focusing attention on those factors individuals can control.

4. What else? Positive broadcasters know to ask the question, “Is there anything else you want to tell me?” This question helps the broadcasters learn about things they may not have even considered.