With technological change, and accelerating connectivity, the future is becoming increasingly difficult to predict. Business leaders know that change is necessary. To adopt new business models by shifting from single-minded efficiency to responsiveness.
What they lack is a common language.
A shared purpose narrative to bring them together.
According to Professor Lynda Gratton, shared purpose across the organisation and mobilise people’s energy – this can be heightened through crafted language use and storytelling.
In the world right now we are changing the rate of change. So it’s incredibly valuable to have the skill to imagine a better world, make it tangible, build narratives about it, and then work through the dozens of obstacles that anything new faces throughout its development.
Nicholas LaRusso, MD, physician scientist and founding medical director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation
According to Jermaine Haughton, storytelling is an essential soft skill that should play a central role in your day-to-day activity, and be one of the most important skills for making a successful leader.
A compelling shared purpose narrative makes it easier for motivating employees and putting the company on the course to success, while getting you one step closer to fulfilling the purpose.
Seen through that lens, Google’s purpose is simultaneously a driver of strategy, a recruitment tool, and a way to make a difference in the world.
KPMG provides a success story in building shared purpose as showcased in HBR. In articulating their higher purpose, KPMG created opportunities for people to share their stories about the meaning and impact of their work. It unleashed positive energy in the workplace, and connected emotionally to KPMG’s mission to serve its higher purpose. KPMG’s improved morale boosted them up 17 spots on Fortune magazine’s annual 100 Best Companies to Work For list, making them the number one-ranked Big Four firm.
With shared purpose, a company can create positive value that is far greater than the sum of its parts.
In today’s technology driven, rapidly evolving economy, successful companies are built not from the ground up, but from the purpose up.
Sherry Hakimi is the founder and CEO of Sparktures
In his book Story, creative writing lecturer Robert McKee explained that people consume information more quickly through compelling stories because they are metaphors for our hopes and fears, our successes and failures.
Effective storytelling draws emotional reactions and can build relationships between managers and workers, develop careers, promote brands, motivate teams and change company culture.
In ‘The Storyteller’s Secret’, bestselling author Carmine Gallo analyses how global brands such as Apple and Virgin have used storytelling to propel profitability, market-leading innovation, and to attract talent and spark the imagination of the public.
Whether the story causes someone to smile, laugh or cry, the activation of the senses builds a strong mental picture in the listeners, enabling them to recall even the smallest details of special moments.
Good communicators and storytellers manage to include some background information like the traditional newspaper journalist, be willing to elaborate on the ‘five W’s and one H’ (what, where, why, when, who and how) to help people understand better the implications of a decision.
Capturing both the positive and negative aspects of a decision in messages is important for employees because it offers meaning to actions.
Managers should tailor their storytelling to ensure they answer questions such as: what were the results? How do they connect to your organisational goals and values?
Awards and certification events are a perfect opportunity to recognise publicly the achievement of high achievers, and for managers to exhibit their storytelling capabilities and showcase your organisation’s inclusive culture, before ending on a moral message.
Paul Smith, author of Lead with a Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince and Inspire, explains that the storyteller’s audience should be engaged by being able to see themselves in the hero’s place because the hero is like them and faces a situation they’re likely to face in the future.
As he has said: “Stories about you, the leader, are often the most effective. Especially if it’s a story about five years ago when you had the job that your listener has today, and you were facing the same problems. Whether you succeeded or failed, they’ll learn from your story.”
Tell your story
Ensure that your employees understand the story of your business as well as their role in business success to increase their collaborative engagement and sense of ownership.
Confirm That the Company Values Are Still Relevant
Leaders and the employees need to check the shared company values on occasion to confirm that there is still alignment.
Communicating and celebrating progress towards the achievement of the goals is essential in maintaining the shared sense of purpose.
A shared sense of purpose is strengthened when employees understand what is expected of them, receive clear performance feedback, coaching on the job and have regular discussions about their training and development needs.
Finally, communication should constantly reinforce the shared purpose and highlight why it is vitally important.