Storytelling to engage your team

28 Apr

I recently had an opportunity to participate in a webinar, led by Anecdote, a consultant firm out of Australia.  Anecdote specializes in storytelling to bring company’s strategies to life, and the webinar was about leveraging storytelling to build engagement.  I have never worked with Anecdote, so can’t tell you much about them but I can say that the stories they shared on the webinar were engaging, and a quick look at their website seems to promise great resources.

A few things that hit home with me, especially with my strong belief that engagement has to target both the mind and the heart:

  • Storytelling leads to an emotional connection and causes people to want to do something
  • Stories remind people of things that happened in their own experience.  To me, this helps them to feel connected to the story in a way that they aren’t connected to data
  • Anger dissipates when people are listened to.  I believe that anger and frustration lead to disengagement, so by listening, we can counteract disengagement
  • Whenever a leader takes action, they are creating a story.  I would venture to say that, in fact, stories are created more by what we do than what we say.  I wrote about this in my blog on Culture being more than a poster on the wall
One of the most prevalent stories that the facilitators mentioned was extremely simple.  They shared the example of a story people told of their manager stopping what he was doing and giving them his full attention.  The simple story of a leader focusing on what the employee had to say told a story of respect, listening, and ultimately valuing people.


Another example they shared was from the banking industry.  A senior leader was visiting a branch and noticed that there were several empty meeting rooms.  When he got closer to one of the rooms, he saw a sign on the door stating that the room could only be booked by Managers.  He immediately pulled his team together and asked if this was necessary.  The outcome was that it wasn’t, and he personally removed the signs fromt he doors of the room.  Without having to overtly say so, this leader sent a clear message that hierarchy was not important, in the story he told through his actions.

What sorts of stories do your employees tell about you and your leadership team?  If they aren’t aligned with the culture that you’re hoping to create, how will you change the things you do to engage your team with positive stories?  

Pic courtesy of Flickr user kodomut


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2 responses to “Storytelling to engage your team

  1. Catrina Kuypers

    May 15, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Hi, I ran into this website from reddit. It’s not something I would normally read, but I liked your thoughts on it. Thanx for creating something worth reading!

    • Hearts and Minds

      May 15, 2011 at 9:52 pm

      Hi Catrina,
      Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for commenting.


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