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July 15, 2014

What Makes a Great Story?

what makes a great story

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, often tells of his trip to Milan and the passion for the fresh, richly brewed espresso he discovered there and carried home with him. He shares the story with his employees to reinforce the message that their job goes beyond selling coffee and is also about sharing the passion in coffee that fills the cup.

Like Shultz, many Fortune 500 leaders commonly use storytelling to engage employees around corporate initiatives.

Psychologists note that utilizing storytelling is a way to engage and manage attention, but is important to do so effectively. In order to effectively communicate with your employees you need to tell stories, and in a way that will resonate with them.

The plot of your story should always reinforce how it's helping achieve your strategy; otherwise it has lost its purpose.

Examples of possible story plots include:

Dealing with change

Excellent performance

Leading our industry


Acting like a leader

My role at the company

Finding smarter processes


Overcoming obstacles

Standing up for what you believe in

Making the most of a tough situation

Taking charge/leading


Stories make executives human and relatable, so that is why it's important to use at least one story purposefully in every communication opportunity with other leaders and employees. Develop a customized repertoire of stories so that you have various personal stories for different messages you want to communicate.

What are some stories of yours that you can share with employees?

— David Grossman


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