Your Leadership Story, What it is, and Five Ways it Enhances Your Ability Lead Your Team. By Dr. John Hackett

John Hackett

Your Leadership Story, What it is, and Five Ways it Enhances Your Ability Lead Your Team.

Imagine you are at a backyard party, of course, practicing social distance. You are talking to a relative stranger, and he/she is sharing their story with you. You share your story with the other person. What is the result? You both have made a connection because you know more about each other and understand your commonalities and differences.

Stories are a powerful way to connect with people. Personal stories are incredibly powerful. All of us have a story.

An evolving, changing story of our life, a  story with many interconnected stories that recount life’s ups and downs and learnings. Some examples of the story chapters could be a growing-up story, a student story, an athlete story, a band member story, a work story, a marriage story, and parents’ and grandparents’ story. These stories tell a rich account of our development, success, failures, and learnings. Stories are powerful influencers in our lives.

Our stories can also create a narrative to connect.

An experienced Network Marketer/Direct Seller knows the importance of stories in connecting with potential customers or prospective team members. They can give you their “Perfect Elevator Pitch” to a sales prospect and their “I Story” to a prospective team member quickly from practiced memory.

The new network marketer /direct seller has been trained (I hope) to develop a short, engaging story to highlight their niche statement, services, and unique selling proposition, putting all together for their “Perfect Elevator Pitch. The new network marketer is also taught to develop an “I Story “to connect with prospective new team members by their director or team leader. The use of these stories, coupled with follow through and hard work, engages customers and gains new team members. The network Marketer /Direct Seller becomes very successful at selling and sharing.

This success leads them to a leadership position. The newly titled leader now another story to go with “Perfect Elevator Pitch and “I Story” be an effective leader. They need to craft a personal leadership story to connect with their team and grow as a leader. Leaders have used their stories for centuries.

Jesus used over 50 stories or parables in the New Testament to build a leadership team and change the world.

All leaders have a leadership story. A leadership story is a powerful, personal message that any leader can craft and share with those they lead and serve. The problem is very few leaders craft and shares their leadership story with their customers and team. The leader who does not craft and share their leadership story is missing an opportunity to grow personally and connect with their team and organization.   This article will consider the leadership story, what it is, and what makes it such a crucial part of leadership in this uncertain time.

What is your leadership story? Tim Tobin, in “Your Leadership Story: Use Your Story to Energize, Inspire, and Motivate,” by Tim Tobin, describes your leadership story as the collection of events, perspectives, and behaviors that represent who you are as a leader. It evolves from your unique experiences. Your leadership story is not like that of the person in the next sales unit. Your leadership story communicates the message of your identity: who you are as a leader, what you believe in, what drives you and defines you as a leader, and how you act.

“Stories are the single most powerful tool in a leader’s toolkit.” ~ Howard Gardner

Your leadership story includes your unique response to these questions;

How did you reach your current point?

What happened in your past to shape the leader you’ve become today?

Who influenced you (positively or negatively) along your journey to becoming a leader?

Describe a time when you thought you lost a significant opportunity to find that what happened instead turned out to be a better outcome.

Who is one leader that inspires you?

What qualities of that individual’s leadership do you admire and wish to emulate?

What do you want your followers to expect of you as a leader?

What are your values, and how do they affect the way you lead?

What do you expect from the people on your team?

Once you’ve answered these questions for yourself, think about how you want to communicate the story that emerges. The key to all stories is honesty, authenticity, and emotion. Practice your story much as you would practice a “Perfect Elevator Pitch” or “I Story”. Parts of the first two stories should help craft your leadership story. The mirror is a great practice partner. A loyal, honest friend is crucial. Ask that honest, loyal friend to review it for you. Rewrite, practice it, and make it yours.

Developing a leadership story has many benefits for you and those you lead and serve in five ways;

  1. Personal clarity and understanding for you and your sales team of who you are as a leader and your leadership journey
  2.  Your Leadership story creates connection and a model of personal transparency and authenticity in communication with your team.
  3. Your Leadership story gives you a clear communication of what your team and organization can expect of you because they know your purpose, passion, and values.
  4. Your Leadership story gives a clear and mutual understanding of your expectations of how purpose, values, and actions will create a new future for your sales team. Your story will provide a model for team members to be successful and become leaders.
  5. Your Leadership story gives a clear vision and creates a picture of the success your team will achieve in the future moving forward.

The development and practicing of your leadership story is an excellent way to grow yourself and lead your team because it starts human connections and relationships.

Your leadership story can be so much more. This story gives you, as the leader, a very public measure of how your story matches your actions. This story allows you a benchmark to reflect on and adjust as needed. Your sharing of your story and especially your vision and picture going forward is incredibly impactful in times of uncertainty.

Those you lead and serve look to you and remember the leadership story you share as clarity, authenticity, personal connection, and a degree of certainty in uncertain times. Your leadership story practiced every day can help others to follow your example and develop their own leadership story. The way you live out your leadership story will create the story for your team.

Organizational health and leadership expert Patrick Lencioni reminded an audience at the start of the pandemic that the stories created during this period will be remembered and retold for a long time. What story will be told of your leadership?

Here is an example of a leadership story presented by Mary Kay Cosmetics #1 Executive National Sales Director Gloria Mayfield Banks during the 2019 Mary Kay Seminar.

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The Leadership Questions for you are :

1. Do you have a leadership story?

2. When can you develop it?

John Hackett
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