As I’m writing this, we’re heading into a new decade, and that gave me the inspiration to think about the past and how it shapes our future as leaders.
And that’s what we’re going to talk about in today’s podcast.
The stories we tell build a connection that inspires others. I’m always inspired by those tales of people down on their luck who manage to turn things around and achieve greatness. Or those people who had a bad experience and used it to create good for others.
Being fired up with passion and enthusiasm is what galvanises us to want to do better ourselves. And great leaders can harness this by telling their own story to inspire their team.
In today’s podcast, we‘re going to look at building the story that has made you the leader you are today, and how you can use it to motivate and inspire others.
So, without further ado, let’s get into it.
Hi there everyone, this is Rachel Hewitt-Hall from the Learn Grow Succeed Podcast.
And today we’re looking at how leadership stories can be the inspiration for team motivation.
But I’ll get into that in just a moment.
First, though, if you are new here… welcome!
By the way, you’ll always find a transcription of our podcast over on the Excel Communications website.
Which is also full of resources to help you develop your leadership capability.
Over the last few years we’ve run many leadership training webinars and if you would like access to these please visit https://www.excel-communications.com/wr – and the wr is in lower case.
Crafting Your Leadership Story
So, leadership stories.
Most of us don’t think of ourselves as storytellers, but telling stories is something we all do, naturally – every day of our lives. From recounting details of our recent holiday, telling a friend about a TV programme we watched, or about a funny incident that happened while we were out shopping – all these are the stories we tell.
I read recently that we learn how to tell stories at about three years of age. So, we’ve been telling tales for a long time! Some longer than others!
Stories create the life experiences that make us who we are. They inform our values, our principles, and how we look at things. Basically, they’re our point of view.
And ultimately, it’s these stories and experiences that shape us as leaders.
And what is so essential……..is the way leaders tell stories helps them engage with others.
Using impactful stories is a great way for a leader to connect with their team in an authentic way. If you’re able to illustrate something, you’re more likely to ring a bell of recognition in others – and consequently, inspire them.
So, how do you go about building your story?
By reflecting on your own experience, you can start to map out your life story and get the information you need to build that on that narrative.
There are some key pointers to think about – so grab a pen and make some notes about your personal experience in the following areas…. and if you are driving please don’t do that! Instead make a note to listen to this part of the podcast again!
1. Firstly, personal highlights – what are yours?
Not just in your working life, but your personal life too. It could be particular successes you’ve had or ‘Aha!’ moments. Maybe you gained your degree against the odds or won a coveted award?
Milestones like these can be life–changing and are certainly life–defining. They embed values such as your principles, convictions and preferences.
2. Next, think about a difficult time in your life.
Perhaps you were struggling with a personal issue or a work situation? Or it could be the loss of a loved one, a toxic relationship or something else that affected you deeply.
Challenges and upheavals are lessons that teach us how to cope when things go wrong, how to deal with issues and ultimately, how to build resilience.
3. Then think about mentors.
Who are the people who helped you along the way? It could be an inspirational manager or a friend who mentored you in some way. These people are the ones you look up to, who you try to emulate because you value their principles.
They also teach you lessons that impact your viewpoint and help develop your opinions.
4. Finally, what were the watershed moments in your life?
Think about the path you took. What influenced your choices? What were the significant turning points? What transitions have you made, and when did a particular decision have an impact on the road you decided to follow eventually?
Maybe you read something that changed your direction in life? Or listened to a motivating talk that inspired you to try something new?
As you build your story, you’ll find it encompasses both high and low points –and both sides of the coin are crucial in establishing you as who you are today.
And keep in mind – this is not a competition with anyone else – this is your story.
Bringing Your Story to Life
When you have your story in front of you, you will see how it has developed and helped establish your attitudes and responses as a leader today.
Think about the vision, or ideals, that you hold, and then use one or two life events to illustrate defining moments that have helped you achieve these.
Think about your vision: Your vision/ideal maybe “I care deeply about the individuals under my leadership. I want to get to know them, their drivers and motivations likes and dislikes so that I can lead them in the best way possible.”
Your story behind this: Early in my working life, I had a manager who didn’t recognise her staff as individuals. She just wanted her team to do what they were told and when and yet she had no understanding or interest in them personally.
As a result, she had a demotivated team and a toxic working environment.
I left that job and started another role where I was mentored by a senior manager. He invested time in getting to know me; encouraging, motivating and developing my skillset, and valuing my contributions. I felt appreciated and valued, and as a result, I gave 110 per cent to that job.
This experience led me to the conclusion that if I found myself in a leadership position, I would make sure I too got to know my team as individuals, appreciate them and value their input to enable me to lead in the best way possible, and develop an emotionally intelligent team that supports and encourages each other.
So, over to you.
Mapping out your own life story is an exciting process and one I’ve found fascinating to do.
It will, I guarantee, help you clarify a lot of the reasons you do what you do, as well as provide you with some story examples that illustrate your leadership qualities.
In a world where communication isn’t always what it could be, you don’t want your team making up their own back story about your priorities and those of your company.
Having a great leadership story will show your team where you’re coming from, helping them engage with you on a deeper level of understanding that will lead to better working collaboration and productivity.
Remember these points –
- Everyone has a story that shapes their leadership style
- Every story explains why that experience was so powerful for the individual
- Listeners will hear your story through their own filters and use its insights to improve their individual experience
Crafting your story will define your own understanding of your drivers – and enlighten others.
So, have you told your story yet?
Until next time!
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