“Leadership is about engagement”

Add to the arsenal of reasons to tell stories this gem from Caroline Stokes, founder of FORWARD, a game-changer in the executive search business:Caroline Stokes, leading executive recruiter and coach, knows how to drive engagement

Leadership is about engagement. Collaborative networks and discussions, not dictators and orders, form the model for leading today’s companies.

Engagement. Discussions. You can’t have those without telling stories. Or without being authentic, another of my favorite topics.

“Yet,” Stokes concludes, “across the board, people struggle to work in teams and effectively collaborate.”

Listening—another tool to fuel engagement

People in business today don’t listen as well as they should. Stokes reports that listening has become “an art form in some countries, especially France.” Not so much here in North America. (Stokes is Canadian and one has to wonder: If the famously considerate Canadians don’t listen well, is there any hope for the rest of us?)

You may be wondering, How can I listen and tell a story at the same time? You can’t. But listening will help you determine which story to tell. What qualities does your audience or reader need to hear about? What experiences will resonate most with them? And remember:

Listening is about the ability to hear the other person, not just through your own personal bias, but from multiple perspectives.

Leaders may have grown up thinking that their perspective was the only one that mattered. That may have been true in those jolly Mad Men days, but not any longer.

You need to be able to look at a challenge from your people’s perspective as employees. And from their multiple perspectives as human beings—parents, spouses or partners, wine aficionados, sports fans, music lovers. Some of these perspectives you may share, and that’s a great way to connect. Other perspectives you won’t share, and that’s an opportunity to be authentic.

Don’t know how? Learn.

Stokes hits another point dear to my heart when she writes,

“Never stop learning. Never stop investing in yourself….If you’re not learning, you’re not advancing.

If you want better opportunities tomorrow, you can’t rely on just the skills you have today. Update your skills—and while you’re at it, learn new ones. Stretch out of that comfort zone a bit. You’ll emerge a better leader.

  • storytelling