Home' micenet eMag : micenet June 2016 Contents WORKPLACE CULTURE | LYNNE SCHINELLA
nce upon a time, there was a
manager called Adele who was
brand new in an organisation.
She was skilled in the business,
having worked her way to the top and knew
her stuff so the fact that she joined in a time of
intense change didn’t scare her at all. She
went about her new job, advising, delegating
and working through issues.
And yet there was something that niggled
away at her. Adele knew she was not getting
the buy in from her team that she needed.
No matter what the issue, how often she told
them the brief and whichever medium of
email, phone or intranet, she just felt that
people weren’t with her.
Against her judgement, but on the advice of
an incredibly smart communications coach,
Adele began including stories in her
conversations. She searched for stories that
had relevance to the current issue; personal
stories that demonstrated she had
experienced the problem first hand. She found
stories on the net, of courage and of change.
And very carefully, she began including them,
keeping them short and relevant, and making
sure she chose the right times to include
them. And here’s what happened.
Her authority was questioned less.
She didn’t do an introductory slide deck of
her greatest achievements. Instead, Adele
wove stories discreetly into her
conversations, about what she’d done and
Lynne Schinella reflects on the trials of a manager
struggling to get support from her team.
where she’d worked. The stories spread, and respect began to grow.
She was able to guide people through the change.
Everyone has had times when change was forced on them and on reflection, it was a positive
thing. Adele’s stories of personal change showed her at her most vulnerable, and therefore
human. She told stories of unwanted change that had a positive result, demonstrating that
change is often a good thing, even when it feels so uncomfortable at first.
She began to get more buy in.
As she shared stories of ideas that have worked before, Adele’s powers of persuasion
increased. She told them of the twilight sail down the Seine on a timber yacht once owned by
Winston Churchill. She told them about staying in the Johnnie Walker castle, wearing kilts to
dinner and entering to the haunting strains of a lone bagpipe. She told them of the silver service
dinner on a raised platform in a rice paddy under a silver moon.
And finally, people began to trust her.
As a leader, sharing personal stories of failure and vulnerability, demonstrates great strength,
shows your humanity and automatically increases the chance of connection.
Telling stories in a business context doesn’t just work for leaders like Adele. They can work in
any situation where you’re trying to move people from one point to another which, let’s face it, is
most of our business conversations. And it’s not just coincidence. There’s a reason stories work.
Stories cut through the clutter of a crazy, over informed world.
Good stories surprise us. They make us think. They make us feel.
They stick in our minds and help us remember ideas and concepts in a way that numbers
and data just can’t. Make no mistake, we need data and we need facts. But in a world full of
them we need stories to give them life, so we connect with others and then, only then do we
have a chance to persuade and to influence.
Effective storytelling provokes a strong neurological response. At different times in a story we
can produce cortisol (makes us focus), oxytocin (promotes empathy) and dopamine (hope).
And that’s what Adele got right when she began including stories. The right stories, at the right
time, told with purpose, will accelerate connection and therefore engagement with your team.
And then we can all live happily ever after. m
Lynne Schinella is a MICE tragic who can’t let go. Working under the guise of a conference speaker
creating better workplace cultures across industry, she misses her role as a buyer and has never
adapted to the lack of invitations to AIME, first class upgrades and Moet on arrival in her hotel room.
www.lynneschinella.com.au T 0419 186 984
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