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The Power of Storytelling in Leadership



Most companies report that they spend over 75% of the workday on average in communication, according to Harvard Business Review. It’s just how we get things done, and it’s imperative that we do it well. The ability to create a compelling vision (be that to a customer or your team) through storytelling has a powerful impact on your ability to lead. In fact, the best leaders are great storytellers. Best-selling author and leadership expert, Robin Sharma said it best: “Whether you lead a Nation, an enterprise, a community or a family, we are all in the communication business.”

This is the reason the Leadership Louisville Center developed and offers as an essential leadership training course – Storytelling: Communication that Inspires and Drives Results.

Storytelling drives performance

In our course, we define storytelling as communicating to a specific audience in a way that engages them, while creating a clear and compelling picture of the problem that needs solving or the future you envision… and how amazing it can be with their involvement. At its core, it is the ability to inspire and motivate others. This was the number one competency of those who lead a high performing team, identified by Zenger Folkman in their Extraordinary Leader study. This is no surprise, as our ability to inspire and motivate has incredible bottom-line impact on everything from our team meetings, pitches to potential investors, in the board room, and beyond. If you aren’t a public speaker by trade, making a presentation is not often something you look forward to – but we’ll take you through techniques that will have you feeling prepared and confident.

Storytelling drives retention

A recent YMCA WorkWell study investigated how employees’ needs have changed during the pandemic, finding that the only consistent need they had to be their best at work was clearer communication from leaders. Practicing more effective listening, understanding your own communication style, and the preferred styles of your team will ensure clarity and greater empathy. We also know that employees are more engaged and likely to stick around when they feel connected to the big picture. They understand how their role fits, and while it’s easy for customer facing employees to see the company’s impact firsthand, not all roles have this vantage point. Are your managers doing a good job of bridging that gap? Sharing customer interactions through storytelling at all levels of the company can be a powerful way of connecting employees to your overarching purpose – something that has earned millennials ‘the purpose generation’ label.

Storytelling drives brand

We are in an era where corporate communications are embracing and reshaping the environment for more strategic storytelling that bridges the brand to the customer while also connecting employees to the brands purpose. Now more than ever, both customers and employees expect brands to have a higher purpose. They want to know the products and services they are purchasing are being environmentally friendly, or providing living wages, or giving back. So, how do you craft a dynamic story about your impact to create an authentic connection and really engage with your customer on an emotional level? It’s no exaggeration to say your bottom line depends on it.