Everyone has a story about how one came to be in his or her profession. As leaders, our stories are apart of us and help shape our choices and influence our decisions. But have you ever told your team your story? Don't think you have a story worth telling? I challenge you to reconsider. Leaders should tell their stories to their teams in order to harness 3 benefits.
I was reading the latest issue of Inc Magazine about how several companies got their start. The writer, Adam Bluestein, suggests that every company should have a well crafted founder's story to help connect your business with investors, employees, and customers.
Sara Blakely cut the feet off a pair of pantyhose and came up with the idea for Spanx.
Jerry Murrell's mother told him one day that if he didn't study, he'd be flipping burgers. He never forgot that and when his sons expressed no interest in going to college, they opened Five Guys Burgers and Fries.
A Colombian aerobics instructor forgot to bring his traditional aerobic's music to class one day. Instead of cancelling class, he made up dances to his favorite songs that he has on his personal device. That is how Zumba Fitness was born.
Every successful company has a founding story. When you are starting out, the only thing you have is your "passionate why"? Your "passionate why" is the reason you are pursuing what you are doing.
Even if you don't own a company, as a leader, you still need to have and craft your "passionate why" and then tell your people.
How to start writing your story
When crafting your story or your "passionate why" think about these question:
Let's be honest. We all have had leaders who either are or seem to be unapproachable. We see them in passing but we never really get to know them. As a leader, you are in a perfect position to change that. Telling your story or laying out your "passionate why" is an easy way for people to get to know you.
1. It humanizes you.
As a kid, I remember the first time I saw my teacher, Ms. Dunston, at the movie theater. I was literally shocked. I thought, She is my teacher. She doesn't have...a real life. I was so used to seeing my teacher in her role as teacher that it never occurred to me that she was a real person.
Leaders are people. But sometimes our titles can make our people think we are inaccessible. Telling your story of how you struggled, the mistakes you make, the fears you overcame, and the issues you are still working on erases the cloudiness and allows people to see the real you. This relaxes them to a degree and could be the spark they need to take those risks you have been encouraging.
2. It builds trust.
Your team is looking for ways to connect with you. They are looking for commonalities. When you tell your story, you are showing your team a vulnerable side of you. When you extend vulnerability, you are extending trust. When you extend trust, you are showing that you can be trusted. Think of it this way, the act of extending your hand to shake another's automatically prompts them to extend their hand to meet yours. As leaders, it is your responsibility to initiate trust. Telling your story is one way of doing that.
3. It motivates.
I fell in love with communication skills development because of mentor's founder's story. She was a stay at home mom whose daughter was asked to study competitive gymnastics. Not knowing what that meant, in detail, she began visiting the competitive gyms in her city to see how the kids were taught. What she saw broke her heart. She saw kids being belittled, embarrassed, and disrespected. She decided she wasn't going to submit her child to that relationally toxic environment. So she started a gym with the sole purpose to treat kids, and adults, with respect, value and worth. She used communication skills to do it and it changed an industry. After working in organizations, where the people are treated like disposable rags, I immediately understood my boss's motivation. and worked diligently to further the mission. Your story could do the same for your employees.
"...the origin story can serve as both a road map and moral compass. Keeping that story alive, keeping it true, and keeping it relevant--these are the challenges more mature businesses must contend with." ~Adam Bluestein
Sharing your story is powerful yet simple tool you can use to encourage the performance and growth you want to see among your people. Wouldn't it be cool to get their stories too? With this information there are no limits on where an organization can go.
So what's your story?
Hi there. I'm Julia. Founder, Executive Coach and Leadership Development expert at Brave Communication LLC. Unless noted, I wrote all of the posts here in.