McKinsey & Company research has probed gender diversity in business worldwide and developed many excellent data points to support the benefits of more women in leadership as well as what it takes to develop more diversity in our organizations. I highly recommend that you read the full report here.
One major takeaway I found interesting was that companies with a CEO taking an active role in changing the company’s story were far more successful in attracting and retaining top female talent. In other words, two companies following the same strategies for increasing their numbers of women at the top can have vastly different outcomes if those strategies aren’t visibly led and supported by the CEO, rather than just getting lip service.
The concept of leader as storyteller has applications beyond gender diversity. Simply shifting our thinking to consider storytelling as inherent in our effectiveness as leaders can open our eyes to new perspectives and innovative ideas for taking our organizations to the next level.
This applies to small business owners and solopreneurs as well if you consider what story you are telling to your colleagues, clients, and the world at large. In fact, even as employees (in leadership positions or not), we tell a story about who we are, what matters most to us, and what we’re capable of in nearly everything we do.
- So what is your story? Your company’s story? If you are considering starting a business, what story do you want that business to tell? What are the main themes? What is the hook?
- Who are the protagonists? Is your story a traditional hero’s journey? What are the obstacles, the trials, and what is the ultimate goal?
- How are you telling your story in conversation, in your marketing, in the board room, on social media?
- Do your actions support the story you want to tell? Your business’s actions? What are you doing (or is your business doing) that is irrelevant or even contrary to your main story?
If your story is not the one you want to be telling, now is the time to figure out why, to look at the data (perhaps your story is unrealistic?) and to consider whether you need to make your story more explicit so that everyone is in sync with it. You might even discover that you are simply retelling someone else’s story and that you need to make a dramatic change in your work or your life to embark on something that is wholly your own, that truly matters to you. This is especially the case if you find yourself bored in attempting to answer this question.
You won’t turn profits if your story isn’t a page turner.