Become a Great Leader Through Great Story-Telling

Communicating and connecting are essential skills if you want to be a successful leader, yet the bulk of leaders in today’s workforce have under-developed presentation and communication skills.  An inadequate understanding of how to effectively communicate can reduce a leader’s impact on his team and organization.

Science tells us that our brains are designed to learn and retain information through pictures, so it’s apparent that storytelling should be integrated into our communication strategies.  Storytelling can be used to empower, delegate, team-build, and present ideas on a larger scale.  It’s time to get creative and employ a heavy-hitting skill that can make an enormous impact on your team.

  • Cast Your Vision – Help your team grasp your vision, or an upcoming change by using an easy-to-use 3-step storytelling script: Start by stating the current situation, then paint a picture of the action steps required to produce the desired change, end with the happily-ever-after fairy tale results you expect to achieve by gaining your team’s support.  This approach works well in meetings, conversations, employ reviews and other presentations.
  • Engage Feelings – Stories get their power from feelings and emotions. Without those two elements, stories are purely a vehicle for sharing information, and data.  Invite your audience on a journey from misery to happiness, scarcity to provision, or triviality to significance to create a total mind/emotion experience.  Engaging heartstrings will demonstrate the necessity for the desired changes.
  • Pull Your Story from the Audience – Ask great questions and get your audience involved in the process. Discern where your team is, where they want to be, and brainstorm ideas for creating a path to change.  Well-crafted conversational stories can bring alignment by valuing everyone’s opinion and input.  People feel more devoted to a plan they played a part in designing.
  • Contrasting Creates Power – Contrasting story lines can be powerful when it comes to bringing out-of-balance teams back into alignment. Define the current situation, share the desired results, then employ the middle part of the story to chart a course from Point A to Point B. Change comes more easily when teams have a clear vision of their current position, and their final destination.
  • Define Your “Who” – Many leaders make a fatal mistake at this part of the storytelling process. The leader should never cast himself as the main character in the storyline. The leader’s key objective should be to guide the main character, your ‘who’, from desolation to prosperity as described at the end of the story.  Adopting a servant-leadership style will reinforce the leader’s position with the team.

Perfecting these five storytelling competencies will increase a leader’s ability to develop growth, and be a person that team members will want to follow.  Connecting with your team through the power of storytelling will elevate your communications skills, and help you become a better leader.

Knowing is not enough, you must take action to perfect storytelling strategies.  There are endless opportunities to practice this skill daily, but to get good at it, you must take intentional action. Take your first step by visualizing everything in the following terms: beginning (negative situation), middle (action steps) and end (positive outcome).  As you hone in on the skill of scripting your stories, focus on the character you are helping in the story to gain backing from your team.


3 Tips to Start Living an Intentional Lifestyle

As entrepreneurs and business professionals, our priorities can be externally influenced.  If we are not intentional about our planning, we may begin to react to our environment rather than respond to it. Stopping to put out fires can lead us down a path of decreased productivity.

As leaders in our businesses and communities, we need to chart our course for growth. The best way to do that is by designing intentional living strategies to bring order and purpose to each day.  So, what do I mean by “intentional living?”  For me, that means, taking full responsibility for my thoughts, words, and actions.  It also means, taking time to reflect on processes and make adjustments to keep me on the path to achieving my goals and objectives.

In his book, Make today Count, John Maxwell says, “The way you live your life today is preparing you for tomorrow. The question is … What are you preparing for?”  Such a simple statement, yet it holds a profound concept.

How many people do you know just float through life, never really moving forward, just going with the flow?  Many of my clients fall in that category.  They come to me to guide them to solutions, and design strategies to help them grow their business. Success doesn’t happen by accident, it happens by planning and taking intentional actions.

Let me walk you through the first three phases in the process …

  • Step 1 – Complete the wheel of life diagram.  If you haven’t done this exercise, I’d highly encourage you to take five minutes to complete it.  It is a simple pie chart that gives a visual of 8 categories in our lives, Career, Money, Health, Family/Friends, Romance/marriage, Personal Growth, and Fun/Recreation.  This exercise gives a quick assessment of how harmonious your life is.

Identifying areas that are out of alignment is the starting point for creating a life strategy that impacts both personal and business goals and sets to outline a path to success.

  • Step 2 – Identify your top 6 priorities, to identify what is truly important to you.  You can say something is important, but when you look at your calendar and analyze how you spend your time, you will see what your “real” priorities are.  You can use my top six priorities to create your own top six list:
  1. Choosing the right attitude/mindset/emotional vibration.
  2. Choosing to work on my priorities, and not fill my time with busy tasks.
  3. Scheduling time daily to think and plan for growth, both personal and professional.
  4. Being committed to following through on my obligations to others.
  5. Intentionally being generous with my time, and resources/showing gratitude to people who inspire me.
  6. Live out my values.

This powerful list will help determine how you spend your time moving forward.  Just like the rudder on a ship, incorporating small changes in our daily habits will determine how productive we are each day.  We must be mindful to make each day count.

  • Step 3 – Create a life vision statement.  Most people have created vision boards.  It’s all fine and dandy to have photos of a new house, and a new car, or starting a family, but the vision statement is more than that.  It is the essence of the life you would LOVE to live.  Take time to reflect and ponder, where you are now and where you want to be.

Visualize all of the aspects of the life you want, imagine how it would feel, consider how you would dress, places you would go, how people would respond to you, opportunities that would be available to you.  Our mind processes in pictures, so to really cement the vision into your subconscious, you need to be as vivid as possible.  Boil it down to 2 – 3 short sentences so it is easy to recite and recall.  Back it up with photos on your updated vision board.

Once, you have defined your ideal life, then look outside of yourself to create a mission statement.  How do you want to contribute to the world around you?  How will you share your talents?  Who will you impact?  Again, this should be boiled down to a few short bullet points.  Easy to remember, but a vivid picture for your mind to process.  Add these photos to your vision board for reinforcement.

As I’m sure you can imagine, there are many more intentional living strategies that I’ve outlined in this short article.  Taking time to define your top six daily priorities, and creating a vision and mission statement will lay a foundation for future action.  Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Start small, and as new routines become habits, continue to evaluate where you can elevate your life by incorporating additional strategies to design a life you truly LOVE!

Intentional Living Increases Productivity

Have you ever been overwhelmed not knowing the next step to take on your journey? You’re not alone. I have felt the same way. Tasks that were just too big would intimidate me, and cause me to put my head in the sand and not take action.

I have seen this behavior time and time again with my coaching clients. They have big ideas and dreams but have a difficult time executing the plan. Not knowing which step to take next or how to prioritize each can be frustrating and overwhelming.

As a business and strategy coach, I help entrepreneurs find solutions to help them jump over hurdles that are preventing them from finishing the race, by creating systems and strategies for better performance.

One of the first ideas we work on is the art of intentional living. Being intentional with our thoughts and actions is the first way to unscramble our thinking processes and find clarity.  Taking control over how we spend our time, what we think about, and whom we interact with can have a profound effect on our performance.

Let’s take a look at five ways we can be intentional:

Start by creating a comprehensive calendaring system.

Include both business and personal/social items on your calendar so your entire life is encapsulated in one place. This small change will bring continuity to your scheduling, and create a natural rhythm to each day.

Take time to block out important dates that you plan to be out of the office, family time, and vacation time to prevent conflicts from arising.

Then look at the next 40 days. Consider the goals you have for that time period, and start to break each goal down into bite-size pieces that can be achieved in that timeframe. At the end of each month, look to the next 40-day cycle. Make adjustments as needed.

Block out time each day to work on specific tasks, limit your priorities to three per day so you can fully commit to doing a thorough job.

Reflect at the end of each day.

Consider what you accomplished, where you fell short, and how you can be more productive the next day. Shift priorities as needed.

Take time to analyze your efforts, note where you experienced resistance or felt stuck and unable to move forward. Reflection can help build confidence as you look back and learn from previous behaviors and actions.

Journal how you felt about the day, whom you encountered, and what gratitude you had. Let your mind flow free. This exercise will help you bring perspective and a new awareness of your habits.

Schedule time each day to dedicate to uninterrupted thinking. 

Designate a special place where you can focus on growing your business. There are many different types of thinking that entrepreneurs should be intentional about utilizing in their business.

Being deliberate in utilizing thinking tools will increase your ability to take your business to the next level:

– Focused thinking – this activity harnesses your energy on a specific goal.

– Creative thinking – this action helps you identify new ways of approaching a challenge or coming up with new ideas.

– Realistic thinking – allows an honest assessment of where you are and where you plan to go as well as minimizing risk moving forward.

– Strategic thinking – is powerful in charting a course to achieve the objective. Having the right strategy can save you time and money.

– Possibility thinking – allows you to dream big and attracts opportunities and people to you.

Set time-bound goals.

Goals are like a roadmap to your success. If they are not measurable and time-bound, you may never arrive at your destination.

Create milestones for each goal so you feel progress and motivation to keep moving forward. Break larger goals into manageable pieces to prevent overwhelm and help you stay the course.

Choose whom you want to spend your time with.

They say you are the average of the 5 people you spend your time with. Make sure they are feeding a growth mindset and not planting limitations in your thought processes.

Your mindset has a tremendous amount of power when it comes to experiencing success in life and in businesses. Mindset holds the keys to how effective we are creating strategies and executing plans.

Nobody ever created greatness on his own. Building a team to fill in the gaps is essential to achieving success. Hiring a coach can help hold you accountable, guide you through finding the answers you are seeking, and help you create strategies to increase your productivity.

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