While we are living in dynamic times people often talk about someone’s success. No matter the nationality, age, and gender, there are some people who have really made it. They are successful. Others want to be like them ( or at least have what those people have earned).
This generates a major problem with people ready to build their own success. In a world that is seen as proactive and result oriented, most people are still reactive to the environment.
The problem with being reactive is that you deny competing with others because that competition can bring stress to you. Most of the companies leaders nowadays are making reactive decisions. Truly remarkable examples of proactive leadership are very few. Take Tesla, for example, they are a company who doesn’t plan to compete with others, but to create and tell their own story. They don’t want to be leaders in the automotive, but to tell their story how they see the automotive industry changing for good of humanity.
Apple was the same when its first products in each category came out. They didn’t present their first computer, I Phone and IPad to compete with others, but to present their view to an established and functioning market. The same goes for Microsoft hardware and software. When Microsoft entered the mobile market with an OS, they tried to compete others and they lost, but now, focusing on telling a story about how they see the evolution of hardware with their Surface line made them unique and positioned other companies, considered as leaders in the hardware industry, as copiers of Microsoft products.
It is the same with leadership. When looking at the leaders of today’s world, there are two groups – those who want to compete with others and those who want to tell their companies stories to the world and let others decide how much these stories touch them.
Leaders who compete with others work with fear. They always focus on being number one, to avoid losing positions on the market. These competing leaders often create an exhausting environment that leads to fast burnout within companies and generates lose of talents, increases in expenses for personnel, decline or steadiness in company profits, etc. Leaders who live to compete with others on the market are focus to win at every price. They see employees as replaceable resources. Their plans are only made to ensure that they will win in the game of competing with others. These leaders are not able to keep sustainable growth for a long time, because they lack the most valuable asset in their plans, their companies’ employees’ commitment, and accountability. The results they generate are hard and non-sustainable in time. Most of these results cost companies almost all they have won while playing the game of competitiveness.
On the other side are the leaders who tell a story. They engage employees, customers, and authorities with stories. Stories that tell about success, stories, created to explain how success is created by ensuring long term sustainability through people and customers. These leaders have their wins and losses as competitive leaders, but they often get out from tuff situations easily and are able to sustain growth much more easily by using their companies stories.
Want to become one of them. Here are some tips, extracted from the practice, to help you build your own leadership story:
Analyze company behavior at different times
If you want to start building sustainable growth through a story you will need to start from the past and present. Analyzing the company story back to the beginning goes through all the behaviors that have been demonstrated through tuff or successful times. When collecting and analyzing this information you will identify the patterns in company behavior through time and will have an idea of how things have changed for the company in different moments, based on reaction.
Don’t forget to go through the learnings the company has built on while overcoming a tuff time or dealing with a problem.
Summarize your findings and get the basics
It looks obvious, but one of the most overlooked steps from those, building stories about companies still remains the overlooking of the summarizing step. Don’t be like those people. Invest time in making groups of learnings and putting in them similar behaviors, findings, updates, upgrades, and changes. Based on the groups you will build, you will have enough information to place the ground basics on the story you want to build.
Compare with values
Values are changing in time. If you say that you as a person have the same values, then you are doomed in a changing world. It is the same with your company values. When you have the summarized findings, compare them with the values that have been communicated and supported by company leadership at the time that the behavior has appeared. Look for that connection that shows that behavior demonstrated has been in line with company values at the time.
Don’t dig into the right or wrong statement for the behavior. It has happened in times when the company leadership team’s understanding of right and wrong has been different. You only need to identify here if there has been support from the leadership team for behaviors that have impacted company history and how this support has been connected with the values company has widely communicated at the time.
Create a time-based framework
One thing that is important to build after all the work you have done up to now is to go through company history and see how company values and behaviors, supported by them have evolved
Looking at the differences though time will give you enough information to build your main points in the history you will build.
Build your company story content
Your company story will be ready when you connect all the dots between the changing points in time. The highest important point you must stress on is the current moment. This is the moment of your culmination. It tells how your company has grown, ha=ow values and behaviors have changed and what were the successful behaviors, that have led to this change and evolution.
Tell your story in a convenient way
One mistake that often happens is that leaders start telling the story they have built-in language and terms not known or appreciated by the mass people. If you want to win others through a story you have built tell them the story by using terms and words they are familiar with. Use people’s language to make them not only hear you but also understand what you say and make your story theirs.
Finish with the future
Everyone wants to see a moving and alive company. Companies who are interesting show their achievements, their vulnerabilities and their readiness for action in the future to implement new things making them better and different. Your story must not only be consistent by now but also must explain the consistent actions you are going to implement as a leader and company to further improve.
Be consistent when telling the company story
I have seen it several times in my life, from leaders managing small, mid and large companies. They are making one and the same mistake. All they change the story they tell about their companies, according to the auditorium they present it to. Why is that a mistake? Well, your company story represents your leadership vision for success and your individual contribution as a leader and a company to the world. When you change the story you tell, you will fail into the trap to weaken the company’s long term vision and will negatively impact the mission the company has communicated. Inconsistent stories impact the level of uniqueness of the company and sustainable growth vision. That reflects in recipients as thoughts about instability and loss of long term sustainability on a strategic level.
Turn yourself into a permanent storyteller
People holding leadership positions miss the opportunity to win through stories by making storytelling one-time act. To make your leadership and company story impactful and remembering you as a leader must tell it constantly. Look at the bright examples from different industries: Apple are telling their story for more than 20 years and people now believe that Apple is here to change the status quo in the tech industry. Space X is telling their story so often and openly that people believe that Space X will bring them to space. Coca Cola is telling their story about how they bring happiness and support family initiatives so often that people associate Coca Cola with family, warm feelings and emotions, happiness on meeting others, etc. Turkish airlines are telling the story of how they want to make your way home or traveling destination as you were at home and they have almost doubled loyal followers and clients in less than 3 years. Their story made them beloved airlines for several years and they overcame competition of established traditional and flexible low-cost companies.
Today leaders must be active when selling their company brand. It is important to all of them to focus not on relying on traditional marketing and sales techniques, but bring what can really touch people’s souls and engage them ina long term sustainable relationship. Companies who can build a touching story and leaders who can become permanent storytellers reacting proactively to changes and explaining them through the companies changes will win in the 21st century. Reactiveness from the 20th century must now become a proactive approach, ensuring current and future winning strategies, involving most valuable connections with customers and employees’ hearts and souls through emotions and values.