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Storytelling, Organizational Culture and Effective Leadership

Organizational Culture

Storytelling is a key element of organizational culture. It can also be a valuable tool for those seeking to achieve effective leadership.

One of my latest clients recently selected a new Chief Growth Officer (CGO) and decided to consolidate previously separate teams focused on marketing, sales development, and thought leadership. I and other members of those teams were asked to submit questions for the new CGO, to be answered at an inaugural all-hands virtual “town hall” meeting. As a newer team member, my question was pretty much a high-level, strategic inquiry.

What is your most succinct summation of the message about what we do and who we help that you hope we deliver effectively to our customers, partners, prospects, and influencers?

At the meeting, I was flattered and surprised to see the new CGO chose my question to kick off her introductory remarks. Here is how she answered it.

“We create and deploy clear, compelling, strategic and impactful work that considers the perspective of our customers in order to drive growth for our business.”

A great response. Even better, with just a couple of minor edits, its focus can be extended to the ultimate beneficiary of the work: the clients. Those edits appear in italics below.

“We create and deploy clear, compelling, strategic and impactful solutions that consider the perspective of our customers in order to drive growth for their businesses.”

Organizational Culture: The Best Leaders Tell the Best Stories

I believe my question is one every business leader should ask themselves at least once a day. I also believe the CGO’s spot-on response can and should apply to almost any customer-centric business, as is or with my modest suggested modification.

Great leaders are all but obsessed with the happiness and satisfaction of their customers (and by extension their partners, prospects, and influencers). Great leaders also focus on ensuring their organizations are telling the best possible stories about how they tie their growth and success to the successes of their customers. Those stories then become integral elements of organizational culture.

Often, the best stories start with a simple summation. Much like the one given by my client’s new CGO. Just remember, it can be more difficult to come up with that simple summation than it is to write an entire business or marketing plan. As French mathematician, philosopher and theologian Blaise Pascal wrote, “I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had the time to make it shorter.”

Think carefully about the primary value you deliver to your customers. (Wherever possible, confirm your thoughts and beliefs with those customers, via conversations, surveys, or other means.) Then, distill that value into a compelling statement that links it to the growth and success of your organization. Use that statement as the foundation for every story your sales, marketing, partner relations, and influencer relations leaders and teams tell. More customer care and satisfaction, more growth, more effective leadership and a stronger organizational culture are all but certain to follow.

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