When presenting we are taught to create and craft a story to help anchor our message in the audience’s mind. But there is another important aspect to storytelling that we often don’t think about as leaders but it is a vital one.
Leaders spend so much time telling stories that they forget to listen for stories. How well people embrace your corporate values, directions and goals can be heard in the stories that people tell.
Each week encourage people to share with you a story that will give you better insight. Do this by asking a thought-provoking question such as, “Share with me a customer story you experienced that demonstrates phenomenal customer service.”
In everything there is duality, so ask for a story on the opposite side as well- “share with me a story that shows customer service that frustrated our customer.”
Listen and don’t interrupt the person. You aren’t trying to edit their story but instead to let it unfold. Think of interrupting as having about the same effect as someone stopping you kissing to coach you on how to kiss. This is the time to just experience the kiss of the story.
Try to see some parallels in the stories you hear. Are there disconnects with what the company says versus what the customer experiences? How about the employees? Do they experience from management the same high level of service that you expect them to provide to your customers?
Think about how these stories can be creatively used- to give live “testimonials”, to highlight employees, to launch new directives.
Your company is a wealth of stories; the question is are you maximizing the riches of them?