3 Stories Leaders Need to Tell
“A storyteller makes up things to help other people; a liar makes up things to help himself.” — Daniel Wallace
As a leader, you need to tell 3 stories:
- your personal story,
- a group story, and
- the dream story.
Your personal story communicates your beliefs and values.
The group story helps create a shared sense of destiny.
The dream story inspires people to a better future.
Use Stories to Inspire Yourself and Others
Whether you’re a leader of a small team or large group, have these stories under your belt. If you lead a family, you can use the 3 stories too.
If you just need to lead yourself, then have a personal story and dream story to remind yourself who you are and to inspire yourself to where you want to be.
In Emotional Capitalists: The Ultimate Guide to Developing Emotional Intelligence for Leaders, Martyn Newman writes about the 3 stories leaders need to tell.
Story #1 – Your Personal Story
The first story you need to tell is your personal story.
“As a leader there are three types of stories that you have to tell. The first is your personal story. To be credible, you have to express yourself genuinely and communicate your beliefs and values in ways that distinctly represent who you are. This is not about wearing your heart on your sleeve, but about describing what makes you tick and what values drive you as a person. For example, if you value diversity and innovation, then ensure you create an environment where people’s views are respected and taken seriously and where mistakes can be made without retribution. Likewise, if you value collaboration and teamwork, then ensure you’re a team player by consulting widely among your people.”
Story #2 – The Group Story
The second story you need to tell is about the identity for your group.
“The second story you have to tell is the group or collective story. This provides some sense of collective identity with which the group can identify. Leadership is not about imposing your individual dream, it’s about developing a shared sense of destiny. It’s about enabling each person to develop a sense of belonging to the group. You do this by helping each individual to understand both his or her unique contribution and the distinctive contribution of others. In other words, adopt a ‘you need me and I need you’ approach.”
Story #3 – The Dream Story
The third story you need to tell is about your dream.
“Once the first two stories are communicated clearly, the real power of your leadership will exist – as it always has – in telling the third story: the destiny or dream story. In this story you provide a description of why the group must change, where it is going and how it will get there. The destiny or dream story provides people with dreams that touch, excite and arouse them — something that ultimately gives them a chance to live out part of their hopes and aspirations.”
Key Take Aways
Here are my key take aways:
- Use stories to help people think, feel and act. Stories help to share the emotions and context beyond dry facts. People can connect with stories at a deeper level. People can also tell and retell stories to spread the message in a simple and effective way.
- Tell your personal story. This is the story where you share what you care about and what makes you tick.
- Tell the group story. This is the story where you create an identify for the group.
- Tell the dream story. This is the story where you paint a picture of the future.
Stories are a great way to share and inspire.
Everybody likes a good story.
The trick is to make the stories relevant and connect at the values, hopes, and dreams.
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Photo by Felipe Morin.