Many great coaching leaders use storytelling to help employees visualize an idea and emphasize its importance.
As author Jeff Dixon once said, a good story “can encourage you, it can make you laugh, it can bring you joy. It will make you think, it will tap into your hidden emotions, and it can make you cry. The power of a story can also bring about healing, give you peace, and change your life!"
Stories have the power to reach us in ways that facts alone never could. And growing your storytelling skills can help you more effectively lead and grow others.
Why Use Stories?
Stories are a great way to take an idea from abstract to concrete. For employees who are linear and analytical thinkers, a story can connect with their hearts and get them out of their own heads.
Similar to stories, word pictures — verbal descriptions that help people visualize what you’re saying — are another great way to clearly convey your message. For example, using the phrase “you can’t see the forest for the trees” helps the listener understand that they’re caught up in the details and losing sight of the broader situation.
A good story or word picture can provide a new perspective, demonstrate the value of certain actions, or shake a team member from a rut. Even if they have the knowledge and competency to tackle a new opportunity, a well-chosen word picture or story may be just what it takes to challenge their beliefs and convince them to move beyond what they’ve always known and done.
What If I Don’t Tell Good Stories?
Practicing the art of storytelling with your team doesn’t actually require that you be a natural storyteller. While it helps, of course, there are many existing stories you can use.
Often, coaching leaders will draw on stories from movies to show the importance of developing teamwork or making a change of some sort. People often love these stories, and a great movie has the ability to move right past the head and connect with the heart. Seeing others struggling, loving and learning on the screen is often just what it takes to drive a point home and motivate people to make a change.
Further, think of all the written stories in existence today. Whether it’s a biography, a book of motivational vignettes or just a favorite novel of yours, a story that moves you will likely move others. By drawing your team into a similar situation and creatively showing them what they stand to gain by taking action, you connect with them in a meaningful, lasting way.
What’s Your Story?
Over time, it’s wise to develop your own stories. By sharing yourself and your own experiences, you’ll be better able to connect with and motivate people.
These stories will help people take emotional ownership of the issues at hand and address them wholeheartedly. By connecting with an employee’s head and heart, you’ll maximize the chances for success.
A great coaching leader will use their own story or those of others — whatever it takes to get from the head to the heart. What story will you tell?