This time of year is filled with powerful stories. The holidays are important because they are times of connection and celebration. Stories helps us connect with our past, with the stories that make sense of our realities and with those who we care most about. Stories are also an important way in which we celebrate. It is in these stories of past gatherings that we shape who we are, celebrating the best (and to some degree, the worst) of our lives together.
I’ve been fascinated with stories for several decades but that passion took a step up when I studied rhetorical analysis in my Ph.D. program and then as I became an author. It means even more now as I continually study both the art of storytelling as well as the practicality of telling stories in business and in life.
I’m most interested in helping leaders tell their stories. That is part of my story. Most don’t tell their stories in part because they either don’t think they have a very powerful story or that no one really wants to listen to their story. They are mistaken. Every leader has a powerful story – if we tell it with the right intent and in the right way.
Here are 7 benefits I have found for leaders of all levels telling their story.
First, Telling Your Story Engages Your Team
People love good, authentic stories of overcoming obstacles. When you tell how you achieved your success (without being arrogant), others are interested. Why? Because stories engage the human spirit. Stories are so powerful because they help us connect to some part of another’s life. That connection is critical to collaboration. Tell the story in a way that connects with your team.
Second, Telling Your Story Shares Your Vision
Great leaders see what followers cannot. When that leader shares that vision, followers are not only engaged but can buy into that vision. So tell the story of the great things you see happening in the future and how your team can be intricately involved. In the end, your team tells a collective story and the vision becomes even greater than you might have imagined.
Third, Telling Your Story Engages other with your Passion
I remember fondly a favorite cousin who was a gifted storyteller. He always had an adventure to share and we were more than happy to listen. The stories were great but as the years passed, I remembered very few of the stories but knew he loved cars, working on the farm and watching interesting people. Even now, many decades later and years after he passed, I still remember the look in his eyes and the sound of his voice as he smiled and wove his yarn. As a leader, you have incredible power to empower a team when you share stories that reflect your passion.
Fourth, Telling Your Story Secures your Legacy.
I’ve written before about writing my parent’s legacy book, Humble Homesteaders. Just recently we released 10 Minutes of Insanity, the autobiography of Heisman Winner Johnny Rodgers. Each of these books will serve to secure a legacy, that gift that is passed on from one generation to another. We each have a leadership legacy but too many don’t appreciate how powerful it can be if told well. Tell your story, not to embellish the facts, but to share the details that explain how you overcame obstacles. That is a story that followers need to hear.
Fifth, Telling your story Leverages your Leadership Power.
Many think of power as the ability to force someone to do what you want them to do. Great leaders know that the most valuable power is getting others to do what is best for themselves, the organization, and the world around them. They know that power works best when it is not selfish. Those stories of unselfish assistance and accomplishment elevate the leader in the eyes of the modern team member. No one wants to follow a bully but they will gladly connect with a selfless leader. Leverage your leadership power with authentic and selfless stories.
Sixth, Telling Your Story Provides a Plan
We glamour to hear disruptive leaders speak because we want to hear their plan. Each tells stories of what they are doing, have done or would like to do. We want to hear their plan. I’m particularly interested in Elon Musk and his audacious plan for renewable energy. I want to know more about his vision and how he hopes to accomplish it. I’m interested, in part, because I can build the plan for my life knowing what he is doing. Yes, a leader’s plan has the power to alter follower’s plans. Share your story – embolden their plan.
Seventh, Telling Your Story Provides the Details
Success is often in the details. I love reading autobiographies because they provide specific details of their success. I’m not modeling my life specifically after any of those leaders story I have read but I always pick up a detail or two from every book that I can use. Wise leaders have told me that no matter what story they hear, there is always one or two things that they can use.
Be Bold – Tell Your Leadership Story
Become the Disruptive Leader
I am Dr. Loren Murfield and I work with aspiring and emerging leaders to become disruptive leaders. One decision I help them make is in writing their weekly blog, articles, white papers, online courses and a book. If that is your desire, contact me today.
Checkout my online leadership platform. Power University
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(c) Murfield International, Inc. 2016