The Value of a Personal Story


Corporate storytelling is becoming a new essential leadership skill. It can be used in training and development or succession planning. Through narrative stories, storytelling shares a story about a business challenge, success or experience, while imparting the values and skills of the storyteller.

Storytelling creates an opportunity for active listening, reflection and dialogue. Stephen Denning, author of The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling, states the following seven objectives for storytellers:

  • Communicate a complex idea and spark action

  • Communicate who you are

  • Transmit values

  • Foster collaboration and cross functionality

  • Tame the grapevine or neutralize negativity

  • Share knowledge, information, and wisdon

  • Lead people into the future

Storytelling is very different from a lecture focused session. Stories should be presented in a plain, simple conversational and direct style. PowerPoint slides or overheads only distract from the story. After finishing a story, the storyteller or facilitator should invite listeners into discussion to create a learning opportunity that shares individual insights and reactions.

Listeners should be asked:

  • What was learned from the story based on its outcome?

  • Was there success or failure in the story?

  • What can be taken from the story for a better understanding of how to respond to a similar or different situation within the organization at a later time?

Storytelling is a personal delivery of a case study. The context already exists and does not require building scenarios or simulating the work environment – it is the storyteller’s experience retold. To create a personal story, first choose your story by asking yourself these questions:

  • What story do I want to tell?

  • What do I want to convey?

  • What organizational outcomes do I hope to create as a result of my story?

Next, develop your story by creating an outline that can answer these questions:

  • What is the theme of my story?

  • What is the sequence of events in my story?

  • What lessons were learned to help improve the organization?

Storytelling can deliver powerful learning.

Is your organization ready to begin telling its own stories?

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