Many leaders might be afraid to be vulnerable and are somewhat hesitant to increase their visibility. Others are trained to keep their personal lives, their humanity out of the office. Sandy Coletta chose a different path when she began her new role as President of Kent Hospital by introducing herself through a story. In her book, The Owl Approach to Storytelling: Lead with Your Life, she explains how leaders can use personal stories to enhance employee engagement and improve business communication. This valuable tool can expose leaders to a whole new dimension of leadership potential. In her book, she explains how to find inspiration for a story that will become valuable to others.
The idea is to build connections and increase trust with those who hear it. Coletta’s preferred approach is spending time with people and work alongside them in order to get to know them and understand their jobs. Because employees are often all circled around the boss, many organizations experience communication between leadership and employees that resembles a one way street. Leaders who adopt the storytelling philosophy find inspiration through unique experiences. In other words, if you want to explore possible narratives for an inspiring story, begin with experiencing something for the first time. I challenge you to explore something similar to Sandy Colette’s example. Commit to try something new and begin by shadowing your employees as they serve food, change medical beds or answer phones.
Leadership and reflection go hand-in-hand. Reflect on your experience and truly embrace the jobs and tasks your employees perform within your organization. Combining one or two of these experiences into your personal narrative and increase not only your connection with employees, and increase your visibility as a leader, but also expose yourself to potential areas of concern – creating a dialog for improvement and growth. Better yet, use these experiences to show you care about their struggles and challenges through storytelling. The most passionate leaders make the most impact and have the position to inspire those around them. Don’t be afraid to expose yourself to something new and bring a new awareness to your organization.