We have written earlier about how effective storytelling is in business. Because stories engage our emotions, they are, as numerous studies have shown, the most memorable kind of content—far more so than cold, hard data. We typically hear examples of stories used in marketing, branding, or public relations. But storytelling can also help us imagine the future and help guide teams through long-term changes.
Writing in Fast Company, Patti Sanchez, coauthor of Illuminate: Ignite Change Through Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies, and Symbols, says, “the most successful business leaders…don’t just see a new business strategy, organizational change, or product launch as an initiative to be executed. They see it as an epic journey, marked by moments of triumph as well as moments of defeat.” In other words, they present their organization’s challenge as a quest, using the classic mythic structure that has shaped the tales of heroic journeys: a call to adventure, rising to a series of tests, and emerging victorious with newfound wisdom.
But Sanchez points out that it’s not enough for leaders to narrate a quest from solely their point of view. Her advice—with which we wholeheartedly agree: “Listen to your fellow travelers to understand how they’re experiencing the journey, and gather stories that are meaningful to them. Then, use that information to create a narrative so they’ll feel as motivated as you are to press onward. That way, it will be their story, too—though as a leader, it’s your responsibility to tell it.
We want to hear: Does your organization have a “quest-like” story that you would like to share? To join the conversation, click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.
If you would like to read more about creating a habit around masterful communication, check out our book: Be Quiet, Be Heard: The Paradox of Persuasion.