Modern leaders do not just lead a company. The modern leader is a personality, a personality of the people, a personality. Both their company and their industry have a story to tell and a message to share This story builds trust, buy-in and friendship and can be the difference between roaring success and extreme failure. The problem? Many leaders make painful mistakes when telling their stories, undermining their quest for motivation and empowerment.
David Pearl is the author of Story for Leaders, a book that outlines how to create a compelling story and provide it with impact. He is the founder of the non-profit social enterprise Street Wisdom, which transforms ordinary city streets around the world into inspirational learning through the power of storytelling. Pearl is the creative trustee of the global high-profile CEO and his team and his latest book, Wonderful, explores our innate inner guidance system to inspire people and find new directions in a complex world.
As mentioned in Story For Leaders, Pearl explains the ten mistakes a leader must avoid when sharing their stories.
Don’t confuse plans with stories
“Plans are not stories and stories are not plans,” Pearl said. “So don’t confuse the two.” When you ask many leaders about the month, quarter or year ahead, they will give you their plans. “They imagine the future with graphs, numbers and timelines. It’s informative, but not too galvanizing. “As Pearl noted, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech to the civil rights movement” I have a dream “is not a” I have a plan “version. Dreams are inspiring and not a plan. Your dreams and yours Share stories, not nuts and bolts. “Use a plan to describe where you want to go, but use a future story to inspire your people to join the journey.”
Tell the truth
Creating a message in a compelling story does not mean exaggeration or lying. “Fiction, not fabbing,” Pearl warned. And the warning is real. “We live in a world of fake news and alternative information. When you use descriptive techniques to plan your life, people will question whether it is true or you are lying. “Succeeding as an effective storyteller does not mean” making more fiction. ” Pearl advised you to “use fiction techniques to make sure your message is heard and remembered, not to change the truth.”
Keep the story short
Pearl explains that “leaders often think of a story as a formal element of presentation. In some cases they will include it in their next town hall, but not on a busy working day. In this case it doesn’t have to be. Stories don’t have to be long, which is told in real time.” Pearl said, “The most powerful narrative is the micro-story, which you can tell in a few sentences or words.” Did that because you’re doing well because some of the original Q3 metrics are brilliant, or you just got a certain response from a client. Stories don’t have to be long, even a quick response can draw a picture perfectly.
Continuous material collection
Leaders who like to tell stories have created systems for noticing and remembering when they can use one. You can copy this strategy “keeping your eyes and ears open for the story no matter where you are and who you are talking to.” He said you should, “Build your emotional story bank so you can weave narratives into your conversations and bring your ideas to life for the audience.” Take note of what people think of you, take note of the amazing things that happen every day and get ready to share new stories at the next opportunity.
Stay free of lingo
“Words are usually bad for storytelling,” Pearl said. Although business language is helpful for brevity, “it is usually very conceptual and very difficult to connect emotionally with short words and acronyms.” Stories, however, are full of related details. Away from the cold reality of EBITDA, SEO and Q4 numbers, “a real-world-based story will be much more memorable and interesting to the people in your boardroom.” The machines like the code but the listeners like the story.
Don’t be a hero
An untrained leader can fall here. This is a common mistake. “While it’s great to use stories from your own work experience and personal life, be careful that you don’t use them to convey how great you are.” No one wants to hear it. If your stories are about you, “Focus on the time where you made noise and then learned something useful. Our authentic-connected world appreciates honesty.” But a good strategy is to tell the story where the audience is going to be the hero.
Do not create a vacuum
Other than the stories you create and share, others have a place to take their place “Nature hates a void,” Pearl said. “If you leave a fertile space for other stories to grow, they can be helpless.” Without intentionally gardening your company and team members repeating messages, the default may be, “Rumors, gossip, myths and misinformation are growing like weeds.” Messaging control starts at the top.
Lack of information is not the problem, but lack of money can be. “Your people need to know what all of this means and it’s your job.” Pearl sees the stories as a vital tool by which “humanity has perceived the world since we first lived together around a fire.” The data row means nothing more than your explanation. Trials and tribulations are just random events without what they mean for the next steps. The role of a leader is to make money from raw materials so that their people are firmly on board.
Read the crowd
Despite the stories being her passion, Pearl knows that a “story is not always the answer.” Instead, he advised you to read the room. The key to attracting your audience is to pay close attention to what they need. “Sometimes they seek inspiration that can bring a story, other times just a detailed Gantt chart or numerical analysis.” Keeping your focus on your audience will give you the insights you need to build your next line.
Don’t solve the problem
Instead of trying to recover, they wallow in their sadness and thus, experience more failure. Pearl said you should “expand the drama, run into obvious humorous situations and look for discomfort.” Without this turmoil, there is no relief in reaching the conclusion of the story safely. “Audiences won’t tell you that, but if a story is spicy they improve on the awkwardness they create.” Put aside the “risk you learned in business school” and improve the drama. This will make for a better and more memorable delivery.
Avoid these ten mistakes when incorporating stories into your company to be engaging, memorable and effective. Keep your eyes and ears open for the opportunity to collect, craft, and retell stories in formal presentations and offhand interactions. Storytelling will soon become second nature to you as a leader, which means a well-appointed team and more reasons for customers to come on board.