Rediscovering the power of Narrative (Storytelling)

You may have noticed the current trend in leadership and business communication for 'storytelling'.  

Despite first appearances it's not a childish or patronising way of talking down to staff, but a powerful way of harnessing the way our brains all work to communicate messages that really stick.

The power of a story is that it's memorable, personal and authentic.  In business communication the story isn't a made up homily but something real that is shared by a leader to communicate something important about themselves and their business.  By using a natural narrative form, and allowing emotion to be a part if the story, the message can really resonate with those who hear it - and so the communication has lasting impact.

Storytelling also gives you a new way into dealing with issues around team dynamics, negotiation, and diversity training.  Thinking about 'my story' / 'your story' / 'our story' is a much more effective and less confrontational way than the traditional approaches that tend to focus on drawing out differences and highlight tension.
 
I've been developing workshops on storytelling to help leaders identify and develop personal stories that weave together their personal stories with the business messages they want to communicate.  The benefits are huge.  Not only do the messages have much more impact, but leaders feel so much more ownership of them.  It really helps develop authentic messages with integrity; a welcome antidote to the corporate 'slick' jargon. 

In my preparation I've found a couple of great books, some super ideas, and some brilliant resources that I'm happy to share:

Books first: I've been reading 'hooked' and 'lead with a story' and would recommend both for fantastic tips on business communication through storytelling.


But because I love to get creative with the groups I work with I've also been inspired by these things:

An ever so effective story wall where individual employees used matching frames to show how their individuality contributes to the story of the business: 


These so-easy-to-customise homemade story stones (from the happy hooligan blog) 



Fabulously portable little story cubes (I've used these really effectively to get coaching conversations started, there's also a version with emotive faces on... available here)



And my personal favourite new addition... A complete set of Mr. Men & Little Miss books that gently ease the unsuspecting into the power of story telling! 




And finally a link or two to other blogs & articles (it's not just me!) http://smartblogs.com/education/2014/05/08/teach-like-its-summertime-all-year/

http://www.leadingeffectively.com/storytelling-as-a-leaders-art/

http://www.stevedenning.com/slides/storytelling.pdf

http://www.krauthammer.com/articles/winning-hearts-and-minds-–-storytelling-for-leaders
 
Goodness, there's even a wikipedia entry! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organizational_storytelling

If you see anything similar, or already use a creative way of sharing stories for business or leadership development, do please share!   You can find me @pashleyfisher on twitter or on Facebook