"Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact.”
– Robert McKee, Creative Writing Instructor
All organisations strive to build a culture where everyday actions and responses are anchored in their core values. This is by no means an easy task. And one of the most potent tools available to an organisation to do this, is the use of value stories - stories crafted to portray how values are lived. Rather than being clichéd words on posters and websites, the stories, if well chosen, bring the core values to life.
Uncovering Organisational Value Stories
Value stories are found in times when an individual stepped out of the "business as usual" mode to respond to a challenge. In how leadership chose to respond in times when a corporate value was put to test. When curated and shared widely, these value stories communicate the uniqueness of the organisation, and catalyse an emotional connect with the brand.
Sharing personal stories
The other kind of value stories that we work within our Narrative Leadership workshops, are the one's leaders can use to communicate their personal values to the teams they lead. Narratives of times when they stood ground in face of adversity, challenged the thinking of people around or broadened their own thinking, or let go of a bias or judgement they had. These value stories enable leaders to inspire and influence others by showing both their vulnerability and their authenticity. A good place for leaders to look for these value stories is in their childhood and early adolescence experiences, when one has not yet fully internalised societal norms and expectations of how one must be.
Crafting your own value stories
A simple and effective question to trigger a value story is: Can you recall a situation in your childhood that made you exhibit your leadership? Reflecting back on your own childhood, you will be surprised to discover how some of your core leadership beliefs today bear their roots in some of the early life experiences of when you felt challenged or took on responsibility.
So when it comes to establishing what makes your organisation special or what makes you an inspiring leader, what value story would you share?