When it comes to the field of organizational storytelling, there seems to always be a link between using stories and leadership. It is true, all leaders employ stories, but there is a misconception that a leader is synonymous of manager or director. Most books that talk about organizational storytelling, speak of how to employ stories to present goals, to inspire, to bring change, etc. The problem is that, organizational storytelling should go much deeper.
Stories should be told at all levels, not just at managerial meetings. Stories should be part of the life blood of a company, becoming the way everyone communicates and comprehends what’s going on. As I’ve stated before, the goal is to build a storytelling culture, not just use stories as a business skill, just as one learns to use Excel or Powerpoint.
Every level of the company should embrace storytelling, becoming not only the generators of many of the good stories, but effective transmitters of them. If we only count the leadership in, the true power of storytelling will be negated. After the first delivery, if there is no story culture or knowledge, the follow up deliveries that audience zero will do, will be pale shadows of the true story.
How many times have we seen someone tell a wonderful joke, just to listen it again while someone in the audience replays the joke to a third party in a horrible way? The same happens with stories. You want to ensure that we have capable storytellers at all levels, so the story propagates correctly and turns into legend. At the same time, these same transactional storytellers will work as story hunters, identifying and constructing stories that can then be relayed to the upper management to explain, illustrate or document certain things that are happening in the company.
As I stated at the beginning, leadership is a power that people give to someone they follow. It’s a power granted by the followers, not installed by the CEO, and as such, it has a temporal nature and can be found everywhere within the organization, not only in managers. Make sure your people excel at making stories the central piece of your communication strategy. and create a powerful grid of transactional storytellers placed all over the organization, not only at the upper management levels.
Image credit: Try harder / 500px
This post and other examples are the reason why I’m writing a book on the topic. If you’re interested in collaborating or showcasing your own stories in the book, follow the newsletter and become a supporter.