Lead with a Story | Paul Smith

Summary of: Lead with a Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince, and Inspire
By: Paul Smith


Unearth the power of storytelling in business with the book ‘Lead with a Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince, and Inspire’ by Paul Smith. The.summary delves into the importance of stories in corporate messaging and how they can be harnessed as powerful tools for communication, motivation, and knowledge sharing. Discover the unique advantages of storytelling, its impact on customer service, employee relations, and internal culture. Learn how stories can create strong bonds within teams, clarify policies, demonstrate company values, and inspire perseverance in the face of adversity.

The Power of Corporate Storytelling

Corporate storytelling is a critical component of messaging to customers and employees. Stories have unique advantages over other forms of communication including memorability and appeal to every type of learner. Businesses like Nike, Microsoft, FedEx and Costco have incorporated storytelling into their strategies with the help of corporate storytellers. In the upcoming summary parts, we’ll delve deeper into the specific areas of business that can be improved with storytelling.

The Power of Customer Service Stories

Customer service experiences, both good and bad, are an opportunity for companies to learn and improve. Sharing these stories can lead to positive changes in the way employees provide service.

Have you ever had an outstanding customer service experience that prompted you to leave a glowing review or commendation? Sharing these stories with others can have a significant impact on the company and its employees. Customer service stories provide valuable insights on how to get it right. For instance, Ray Brook wrote a commendation letter to the CEO of National Car Rental after employees went above and beyond for him when he faced a dilemma. His story became the new standard of service expected of employees at National.

However, customer service stories are useless unless they’re shared. As a leader, you can encourage customers to record their stories by creating a platform for them to share feedback. For example, a “story box” can be added to your company’s website, or customers can be given self-addressed envelopes to share their experiences. Additionally, scanning customer review sites such as Yelp can also provide insights on the company’s strengths and weaknesses.

In conclusion, sharing customer service stories can offer an opportunity for companies to learn and improve. Positive feedback can motivate employees to set a higher standard of service, creating a culture of excellence.

Stories Speak Louder

Companies should communicate their values and culture using compelling stories instead of bland slogans. A story can make a difference in how employees perceive their position in a company and better understand what is expected of them. While slogans are easily forgotten, stories that show actions rather than words leave a lasting impression. P&G is one company that uses stories to communicate their values effectively. For example, during the revolution in Egypt, P&G assisted an employee and their family in quickly leaving the country by buying them multiple tickets and arranging accommodation upon landing. By demonstrating their values through stories like these, companies can increase employees’ confidence in their place of work and create a more positive working environment.

Building Strong Teams with Storytelling

Leaders can create strong relationships and diverse teams by encouraging storytelling in the workplace. Sharing personal stories creates bonds by showing the humanity of coworkers and helping people understand and change negative behaviors.

Large companies are often plagued by a lack of personal connections between colleagues. However, as a leader, it’s important to establish relationships within a team. Storytelling can be the solution to this problem. By motivating team members to share personal stories, leaders can encourage the formation of strong relationships within their team.

Sharing stories makes colleagues relatable and helps build bonds between them. For instance, Jamie, despite being the head of his team, struggled to connect with anyone in his office. But during a bonding session, Jamie shared his personal experience regarding his brother who suffered from bipolar disorder and committed suicide. His story brought the team closer to him, and they realized that Jamie was more than just a coworker. It transformed him into a relatable person, and as a result, his team was willing to work harder for him.

Sharing stories also helps in building a diverse team. It’s essential to diversify based on skills and experiences, yet building such a team can be challenging. With stories, team members can share their discomfort and help others understand and change their negative behavior.

In conclusion, storytelling is a powerful tool that leaders can use to create strong relationships among colleagues and to build diverse teams. By sharing personal stories, team members can see their colleagues as human beings with a shared understanding and empathy, ultimately resulting in more productive work environments.

Learning Company Rules Through Stories

Leaders can use stories to inform employees of what they should and shouldn’t do. Stories help bridge the gap between personal experience and company policy. A simple, compelling story can make policy become clear and understandable.

Do you actually know all the rules and regulations of your company? Trial and error or personal experience can only provide limited knowledge. So, how can leaders inform employees of what they should and shouldn’t do in a way that doesn’t involve tedious rule-reading?

Stories provide a powerful tool for bridging the gap between personal experience and company policy. A classic example of this is with new P&G employees. The story of two workers who took advantage of the free cafeteria service for trainees provided a clear example of what would happen if employees tried to cheat the system. In this case, the cheaters were eventually caught and fired.

Such stories are simple yet compelling, making policy clear and understandable. They also serve as strong examples for employees to follow. Leaders can take advantage of the power of storytelling in order to keep employees informed on what is expected of them, regardless of if they’ve read the rule book or not.

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