Storytellers are the Best Change Leaders

You may have all the charts, statistics and even visuals ready to pioneer a change in your organization, but might still find it ineffective for your team. We sometimes forget that more than facts and figures, humans are story-hungry. We all like a good, compelling story.

You can, and should, master the art of storytelling to effectively implement change in your organization.

According to Plato, “Those who tell the stories rules the world.”[1]

So what’s in an effective story?

A story is a vehicle that helps to deliver information by stimulating the emotions of the listener. It relays a message beyond the facts and engages the listener with a call to action. Nobody wants to hear a long list of data points on why they should jump aboard a new policy, program, or team culture. But, they will listen to stories that empower and inspire them.

When people get to feel the problem (or the solution), they are more likely to buy-in.

So learn how to create your “change” story.

A “change” story may contain various points of impact to portray leaders’ desires. It can either impact the community, the customer, the company, the team, or the individual. Pointing out some type of impact is important when crafting and delivering your story. It will increase engagement in the story as well as the change initiative.

Do you feel like the culture of your organization needs to change? A great story might just help you to get there. You can discuss with your leadership team how you can best connect with your people’s feelings and emotions. If your leaders are in touch with their divisions and teams, they’ll be able to assist you in crafting a compelling story.

Keep in mind that you don’t want to fabricate stories or otherwise lie. However, good storytelling for the purposes of effecting positive change is not lying. You’re calling attention to an idea and a purpose that your team can rally around.

Let’s assume you want to implement a new corporate policy on working hours. Instead of springing the change on all your departments or branches, have one department test it out and get a success story. You can even have the manager share the story with the rest of the leaders. S/he may share how productivity went up in the team and developed a friendlier work environment. As the story is shared, individuals will be inspired and implementation will meet fewer obstacles. In fact, they might be looking forward to it even before you announce it!

Good leaders use proven management tools. Great leaders add compelling stories.

[1] Also attributed to the Hopi Native American tribe.