The Best Leaders Tell Themselves the Best Stories

For the 50th episode of our Drama Free Living podcast, we returned to a topic we frequently cover when it comes to all things leadership. And that is the topic of the power of the stories we tell ourselves. When we last wrote on the subject on the blog, we talked about it from the lens of self storytelling for everyone. 

This time, we were looking at it from the perspective of leaders…and specifically how the best leaders are successful because they tell themselves the best stories and then model that for their teams. 

Let’s unpack this concept.

Step One: Recognize the Power of Positive Stories and Avoid the Tendency to View an Interaction as Negative

Imagine this: A circumstance takes place that leaves you with a negative feeling because when there is a chance for something to be viewed in a non-positive light, our judgment naturally skews that way as humans. 

However, our training in the power of self-storytelling also informs us that we can flip the script here by thinking of alternative explanations when we lack the facts to prove otherwise. 

Maybe you received an email that rubbed you the wrong way because it was very brief and direct. You are immediately put off and possibly even angry. But instead of letting those feelings take hold, you imagine that the person who sent the email had only a few seconds left on their computer charger so it had to be brief, or maybe they sent the email before completing, or maybe there was possibly even a language barrier involved and they were doing their best. 

Until you know all the facts, any alternate version could be true so let’s go ahead and pick the positive spin until proven otherwise. Don’t you feel better already?

Step Two: Help Others Accomplish Step One for Themselves by Shaping Conversations Positively and Declaring Intent 

Step One is really hard for most anyone and takes serious practice to effectively train your mind to think differently. As a leader who wants to manage a team of positive self-storytellers, you have to hold their hand a little bit. When you are having a conversation with a team member, state the intent of your exchange ahead of time. 

For example, you want to meet to review something with your team member. You either send an email or drop by their desk and tell them you would like to meet with them to review something specific and it is going to be a positive conversation. Or, you could say there is a challenge we need to overcome together, but that you have confidence we will find a positive solution. Tell them what events or circumstances mean so they have no room to imagine something different.

Step Three: Always Ask Yourself and Your Team Members What Positive Outcomes Occurred After an Event Took Place

Ultimately, we know not every situation we encounter in the working world is going to actually have a positive spin. However, even the things that go wrong have a lesson associated. Every obstacle is an opportunity to stretch and grow–and that is a positive outcome after all, is it not? 

If you can think this way, there are no negative stories. Even the most negative stories have something positive that we learned or a way we grew that we can reflect upon. 

Combined, these three steps form a collection of stories…and stories are what establishes culture at an organization. By being a leader who follows this way of thinking, you are building a culture of self-motivated, drama free producers. 

That sounds like the kind of company we want to work for.

Are you stuck in frustration?

Are you stuck in frustration? Wasting time reacting to others instead of focusing on what matters most?

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