I came into the room to find my 3-year-old son playing with his favorite trains. He talked quietly as he moved the engine and coaches over the track.
“James, yes, this is a long, heavy train, but you can do it,” he encouraged as he moved the trains up the hill, across the bridge, and down the track.
His volume and tenor increased, “Then James noticed that the end coach was about to tip over! Oh no, what would he do?”
Luckily for James, there was another engine close by who came to the rescue. It was a cute, simple story.
Even with its simplicity and brevity, I found myself momentarily wondering what would happen to James. I was engaged in a toy train’s situation because of a story.
Stories are powerful.
In this time of pandemic where people are unable to interact in familiar social ways, stories can be more important than ever before.
Authentic leaders can be with their team not only through articulating stories about the vision for the organization and team, but also by encouraging others to tell their stories to create and maintain foundational social bonds.
Simply put, authentic leaders realize the bonding strength of stories and create opportunities for sharing.
Right now, people are aching to connect, to engage.
Yes, even us introverts.
Authentic leaders purposefully create situations where connection can flourish and engagement is celebrated.
Ways to connect a team include allowing and encouraging time for story telling. Ways to prompt this include asking the following questions or prompts during group meetings or planned virtual events:
What is a favorite family story about you?
Name an individual who has been influential in your life and share a story of how they impacted you.
What is one goal that has shaped your life?
There are many more.
If you’re not already holding frequent virtual meetings with your team, now is an excellent time to start! Setting aside dedicated interaction time naturally encourages stories, connection, and engagement.