Seven stories leaders should tell - The Pickering Group

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Seven stories leaders should tell

Bear With Us
Now settle in, Best Beloved, it’s time for a story. But what kind of story?  When we talk about business storytelling, we’re really talking about illustrating our core business message with a succinct story or anecdote that puts it in context.  We’re making points and making connections, and we’re using stories to make them memorable, clear and emotionally effective. For example: Goldilocks, a favourite story of a recent client, is about finding the ‘just right’ for his own client’s needs. It’s also a story about how you shouldn’t burgle houses or you might get eaten by bears. Good story.
It’s My Life
When you go to mine your life experience for business-relevant stories, it can feel like an open book. Is there something in that time you climbed Mt Kilimanjaro? Probably, although you might not want to mention how the local Porter pushed you up the last 500m while his wife carried your pack. Unless that’s relevant. What about that hilarious yarn about your mother-in-law’s lost undies that goes over so well at parties? Or that time the grape got lost and you had to ring A&E and the nurse just laughed and laughed? Maybe not. When searching for stories, you need a filter and a focus.
Types of Story

A story, according to legendary screenwriting teacher Robert McKee, ‘expresses how or why life changes.’  So a good business story expresses how and why a business changes. We believe every leader should have a repertoire of great Spotlight Stories they can tell at any time the need arises – either off-the-cuff or as part of a structured encounter like a presentation. Below are seven story themes we think are most important to have in your back pocket.

  1. Identity Story – A story that shares who you are and why on earth you do what you do
  2. Leadership Story – A story that embodies your idea of great leadership
  3. Lesson Story – A story where wisdom grew from failure after being eaten by bears
  4. Motivational Story – A story that gets you out of bed in the morning
  5. Customer Service Story – A story of delivering extraordinary value for a customer
  6. Success Story – A story where focus, persistence, hard work and a Porter led to success
  7. Values Story – A story about living your values or the values of your organisation

That makes it easier, doesn’t it?  When it comes to putting together your presentations or business communications, consider first what message you’re trying to send, then plan a story accordingly. You can’t just have one multi-purpose story you crowbar into everything, even if the Queen really did say that to you. It won’t be truly relevant and pretty soon everyone will see it coming a mile off, so your corgi antics will lose any impact they once had. 
We’re Listening
At The Pickering Group, we can help you identify the best business-relevant moments from your experience and hone them into punchy, impactful stories. Stories are memorable and drive action, so they’re one of the most powerful influence tools you have. And they’re personal – they reveal your strengths, character and values, making stronger connections with your audience and building business relationships. Except that one about the grape, that one is not to your credit and honestly we wish you’d never told us.  Anyway, get in touch and tell us your tales! Find us on LinkedIn, check out our Leadership Storytelling courses here, read more about the importance of stories on our blog roll. Don’t miss our next EDM, it’s our popular Christmas Cracker edition! It has jokes in, but no paper crown. Feel free to print it out though, and make your own.

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