February 8, 2016

Business environment had never been as fluid as it is today. Change is the new constant in the life of any organization. Accept it or reject; change is not going to vanish! Unfortunately, change is never perceived kindly by people who keep an organization running day in and day out. This throws up the biggest challenge before any leader - how to take people along the road to change by making them so excited that instead of fearing change, they look forward to it. The age of pied piper has arrived; someone who can weave a magical tune (or a story) to put a diverse set of people in a trance, dancing and walking to where the leader leads.

Let’s take an example of a mid-sized company where a new leader arrives to undertake a complete business transformation. Obviously, as is human nature, people are excited as well as apprehensive. In such situations, the regular folks don’t open up easily. In absence of engaging communication from the leader, the entire environment becomes a breeding ground for heresay and rumours. First priority must be winning peoples’ confidence in the leader and his story of the magical world. So what’s the way out?

Everyone is important; respect wins

Nobody wants to take orders (except if you are in military) but everyone wants to walk by the side. So as a first step start respecting people as equals and forget judging them. Believe they are as good as one can get. Then comes the fine art of storytelling to spur the action.

It’s not about you; it’s about them

Weave the story around your people not your pompous self. Make people the hero of the story. Show them how “they” and not “you” will lead the transformational journey to the wonderland. Thicken the plot with the drama of your message so that they feel a tug at their heart that inspires action. Moving them emotionally to embrace change and winning their confidence is the first step to successful transformation.

Simplicity wins

A good story is simple, memorable, relatable and sharable. It not only is able to tell the message but also acts as a reinforcement agent. People talk about it with pride as if they are the primary drivers of the story. The message sticks and creates positive vibes.

A story is a journey, not a destination

The most effective stories are not about one product, one initiative, or one transformation. They are like continuous episodes of a soap opera where one episode links to the other and keeps the audience engaged and asking for more. The business leader who wants to use storytelling effectively must find a way to link up one story to another and keep the people engaged with multiple initiatives that make a successful transformational blockbuster.

Humility trumps superman

Every story needs an engaging storyteller who brings alive the story vividly. Story tellers who are loved by their audience are humans and not “exalted egos on the high pedestal.” A CEO aspiring to become a master storyteller to transform the business must start behaving like a human first, someone in whose company an average mortal can feel comfortable. Then both story as well as astounding results would flow!

So let the journey of a story begin. Miracles do happen in stories!