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Monday, April 19, 2021

C-Suite Advisory

The Three Stories Every Business Leader Must Have

There are countless low-grade stories swirling around your business. Anecdotes told by your staff, customers and business partners collectively paint a confusing and often unflattering picture of your company.

As the leader, you must find a way to manage this babble.

The solution is to be purposeful about your critical company stories because the antidote to bad, false and confusing stories is… better stories! By taking the effort to curate and deploy specific types of story you can radically change the conversation flow around your company.

Armed with just three stories you can attract and motivate the right staff, position your company to attract and retain the right customers and promote a better ongoing relationship with all of your stakeholders.

Here are the stories.

Your Company Story

Most companies fail, so how did your company avoid failure and achieve success? What were the special circumstances that led to your success? Most companies choose to make claims and assertions rather than tell their story, those claims sound just like your competitors’ claims and are lost in the noise.

But every company has an interesting and unique story, why not tell it?

These are the events of the company story:

  1. The setting. Describe the time, place, people and circumstances that lead to the creation of your company. How did the company idea start?
  2. Complications. What went wrong, or could have gone wrong? What good and bad fortune befell the early company?
  3. Turning Point: When was it obvious your company would succeed? Was there a crucial first client? A lucky change in market circumstances? A critical investor?
  4. Now: Describe how things are now, this is where you place facts about your company such as its size, geographical reach and customer types.
  5. Future: Where are you going? The final event in your company story is your strategy. How are you taking your staff and clients forward?

Keep in mind that a story is defined as a sequence of related events, each event in your company story must lead logically to the next event, otherwise it’s not a story, and it will fail.

Your Fighting Story

Your company story paints the big picture but your fighting story explains how you win business day-to-day, it’s your street-fighting story. There are two types of fighting story for two different business situations. Either, you have clients that have succeeded with you or you don’t (yet). If you’ve had success then tell a success story, if you haven’t had success yet (you are an entrepreneurial business) then you must tell an insight story.

Success Story: The hero of your success story is the client that succeeded with your help, don’t make the mistake of making your company the hero, you are just the guide! Start the story with your client, then introduce the challenge they are faced with. Then describe how they met your company and the plan you gave them. Finally explain how they avoided failure and achieved success. A well-told success story lets your future client experience your service before they buy.

Insight story: Commercial insight is defined as something your company knows about your client’s market or business that they don’t appreciate but would profit from. Insight, by definition, is not obvious so we must teach our client how the insight works. The insight story hero is the ‘researcher’ and we tell the researcher’s discovery journey. Describe the research setting, then the false leads and trials, then the eureka moment of discovery and finally explain what the discovery means. With this story, your client will co-experience the insight, understand it and accept it.

Your Values Story

In the early days of the Hewlett Packard Company (HP), co-founder Bill Hewlett, came to work on a weekend and found the equipment storeroom locked. He smashed the door open with a fire axe and left a note on the door insisting that it never be locked again because HP trusts its people.

That’s a values story, a story triggered by the actions of a company leader that demonstrates to staff and customers how people in your company behave. Often the values story is about a time when the leader needed to overcome a challenging situation and demonstrated strength of character rather than expedience.

Three Stories

The time and effort you put into crafting your company story, fighting stories and values stories and making sure that your staff can tell these stories will repay itself many times over.

Rise above the noise and babble of low-grade stories and become a storied company!


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Mike Adams
Chief Storyteller and Co-founder at Growth in Focus. Mike Adams is a business storytelling specialist and author of Seven Stories Every Salesperson Must Tell. Mike has managed sales teams in the UK, Russia and throughout Asia for international corporations such as Schlumberger, Siemens, Nokia and Halliburton and has sold over a billion dollars of products and services over his career. Since 2014, Mike’s storytelling consulting practice has been helping sales teams find and tell their best stories.
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