Storytelling: Changing One Thing
By Mark Inboden
On Friday night, my wife and I gathered with friends at a holiday dinner party. After the meal, we sat in the host’s family room and then each of us randomly selected a piece of paper with a question on it. Each of us took turns reading our question out loud and then giving our answer.
The woman who was sitting next to me read the question, “If there was one thing in your life you could change, what would it be?” She explained that she would be more “fun-loving.” It turned out that she was so structured in everything she did, sometimes she really missed out on the fun of accomplishing a task because she was so concerned with checking it off her list as completed.
I thought about this question over the last several days, and considered how this applies to business. If your team sees you as a manager that “cares only about checking things off their list,” how much fun is it to work for you? Lists, reports, KPI’s are all important tools for running a business, but these gauge the results of your team wanting to perform for you, the customer and themselves. As a leader, one should use what is on their “lists” to weave a story.
Telling people “Why” something is important, “Who” is involved, “What” will be learned, “How” this will benefit everyone involved and “When” it needs to be done, conveys greater meaning than “telling” someone to complete a task so it can be checked off your list. Of utmost importance is letting people accomplish the task in their own way after telling the story. Most people enjoy being challenged this way, and do find “fun” in their accomplishments and reporting them, especially if they can “write” that portion of the story.
Maybe “Telling a Story” and letting your people decide how it gets “finished” might be the one thing you change in conducting business in 2015. You might have more “fun” and be able to check that off your list!
Mark is President and CEO of UCEC.