If you lead your staff using proven narrative strategies, you’ll get results. Microsoft does it. Nike does it. Saatchi & Saatchi and the World Bank do it. Proctor & Gamble has hired movie directors to teach their executives how to do it. Motorola, NASA, 3M, and many other well-known successful companies all do it.
In working with hundreds of marketers and managers over the years, I’ve noticed that most top level leaders are left brain thinkers – logical, analytical and structured decision makers. They’re used to working in facts and hard data and so they communicate by instruction.
Ok, facts and figures might carry weight, but their meaning is too often lost on the very people they’re trying to motivate. Using a more narrative, story-based approach, these same facts are translated into an appealing picture of reality that people can relate to, remember and act on.
Using a narrative approach gives context and familiarity, allows people to draw their own conclusions, and remains with them long after you’ve finished talking. It paints a picture, pieces together past, present and future and allows the listener to see the part they play in the bigger context. It can spark creativity and renew passion to work towards a common goal.
Here’s the six narratives I believe every business leader needs to strategically use right now.
1. Where we came from.
Each one of us has a unique origin story. Sharing your story in an authentic way connects you to your staff on a human level and establishes credibility.
2. Where we’re going.
Share your vision and get people on board with you. Build faith in your vision by sharing your strategy.
3. What we believe.
Reveal your personal values with stories that demonstrate them – to shape the workplace culture.
4. Who are we here for.
Create a narrative around your target customers. Who are they, what they desire, how you make that happen for them. This will be your classic ‘going above and beyond’ story illustrating a values-driven staff member and a customer who became your number one fan.
5. How we’re different from our competitors.
From a marketing perspective, how and why do you stand out?
Remember different is better than better!
6. Why you should want to work here.
This is the story you tell your recruits. It will create a connection with the right people and encourage them to come on board. In today’s tight labour market getting this narrative right is absolutely critical.
Agree? Disagree? Do you have more narrative strategies to add to the list? I look forward to hearing them!