As entrepreneurs and leaders, we talk a lot about the importance of communication. We’ve built up an arsenal of great tools that help us effectively reach our employees and customers, from company-wide emails that provide updates to employee offsites that provide an outlet for professional learning and team building. However, one critical tool continues to be underutilized and undervalued: the power of storytelling.
We all love stories and we are all storytellers. Stories are what differentiates us as human beings. It’s how we forge connections with each other and build trust within our communities. Each story is an emotional journey that reinforces shared values, beliefs and vision in an effort to relate to one another. We need to feel that we are part of something greater than ourselves.
The greatest entrepreneurs are master storytellers. They understand a shared purpose and align the values of their company with the product or services they create.
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Here are the three ways you can use stories to establish trust, truth and loyalty in your business today:
Stories of the past build trust
As entrepreneurs, we must encourage and empower ourselves and our teams to share stories. The more personal, the better. As we continue to live in a WFH environment, we must break out dedicated time to foster this sharing and connecting. Bring your team together to share stories that aren’t explicitly tied to the day-to-day work of your company. Remind your team of the origins and the “why” of your business.
Stories of the present tell the truth
President Barack Obama reportedly read 10 letters a day from regular American citizens, stating that it was a way for him to remember that his job was all about the American people who were living their lives and looking for help.
Great leaders and great entrepreneurs consistently stay connected with all levels of their organization. They make it a priority to create a strong culture that values daily communication and provides the opportunity for everyone on the team to have a voice.
During the current crisis, entrepreneurial leaders are making business decisions at lightning speed, while others are pivoting their entire business overnight just to survive.
The best way to stay agile and quickly act during tough times is to connect with your existing customers. Create a platform that encourages your clients or customers to share stories about their current struggles. Through this storytelling process, how can your business provide a product or service to help those you serve? Is there a way to pivot one of your existing products or services?
Listen more and say less. Take notice of how your customers’ needs have changed in recent weeks and offer solutions.
Stories of the future inspire loyalty
Times of crisis are an excellent opportunity for entrepreneurs to communicate stories with incredible vision for the future, showing empathy, advising with humility and providing optimism for the future.
When times are tough, your team is looking for someone to lead the way, and to show them that there is great potential ahead. You must set a clear vision and advise with humility. Those who are great leaders never forget to remind their team where the company is going and, if everyone one works together, the future is very bright.
Stories remind us that through tough times, we will come out the other side stronger, wiser and more unified than ever. Stories bring us back to the beginning and remind us of who we are and what we do. Stories create clarity in our purpose and a vision to get there. Entrepreneurs who master the art of storytelling have the power to evoke innovation, show adaptability and reinforce resilience in all of us.