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January 29, 2020

Share Stories to Connect with Employees


Employees don’t want to follow leaders who they don’t really know and understand. You can’t get anywhere with your team if they don’t see you as a real person who’s not perfect but who has a real vision for the company.

Help Employees Get to Know you

One of the key ways to help people get to know you is by sharing stories and connecting with employees on a personal level.

I often enjoy listening to commencement speeches for ideas on how leaders can successfully share personal anecdotes to inspire a team. One of my favorites was from Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who spoke to nearly 2,000 graduates of the City Colleges of Chicago.

One of the keys to Sandberg’s speech is that it was full of stories, not boring statistics and data points. At the same time, all the narratives had a point that directly connected to her City College audience, made up of many minorities, immigrants and older students with families of their own.

Specifically, Sandberg shared accounts of her immigrant ancestors looking to build a new life in the U.S. She spoke of her grandfather’s graduation from the City College of New York, and how that opened up new opportunities for future generations including Sandberg herself. She was also willing to be truly honest and vulnerable. She talked about mistakes on the job and lessons learned. She shared her insecurities growing up, the feelings of inadequacy she needed to conquer in order to succeed. These anecdotes prompt interesting questions for corporate leaders, too:

  • Which of your life experiences can serve as inspiration for your employees?
  • What can you share that makes you vulnerable and relatable? For example, what was your first career experience?
  • What mistakes have you made that helped you become a better leader?
  • Furthermore, what can you share that personally connects you to your company’s vision and your team?

What stories can you tell to help inspire your employees?

—David Grossman

Additional articles on Storytelling you might find valuable:

Town halls are often one of the best or only opportunities for senior leaders to connect with employees in a meaningful way, especially for global companies with remote workers. Click below to download this ebook—Make the Most of Your Town Hall: 10 Ways to Unleash the Power of Your Team—and get insights to leverage your town halls to connect employees to their leaders and business strategy today.
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