Menu
Leadership

8 Ways to Create Powerful Stories About Leadership and Teamwork

Leaders and managers at many companies impart stories about leadership and teamwork. These stories may be shared during the onboarding process, at staff development events, as part of a corporate retreat, or on an occasional basis. These parables or allegorical stories often have an implied moral, and usually are told with the intention of boosting morale. 

To comprehend the value of powerful stories about teamwork, one must understand the meaning of the word. At its most basic level, teamwork involves cooperation by all people working on a single task or project. But as any manager in business or a sports team can attest, the simplicity of this definition fails to convey the interrelationship of all members of the team.

Consider a baseball team as an example. In a perfect world, all players on the team would add value and contribute to the team’s success by helping to win games. But each player has a specific role: Some are great pitchers or infielders, while others might help the team with their ability to chase flyballs in the outfield or to hit the ball out of the park.

Thus, teamwork happens when people work as a cohesive group with a common goal. Their shared efforts involve combining their individual strengths in a supportive manner while sharing space in a positive work environment. This blending of individual talents fosters collaboration, camaraderie, and a shared vision that is guided by leaders and the goals that all of the team members share.

A Deeper Awareness of Teamwork

To craft powerful stories about teamwork, one must understand that teamwork is fluid and evolving rather than fixed and unchanging. The individual strengths and assets needed for one project may no longer seem urgent as the project enters a new phase, or as the team embarks on a new project. Managers evaluate the talents of each member, assess their importance to the tasks at hand, and find ways to focus their involvement on areas where they can make the most significant contribution. 

Teamwork still plays an essential role in all aspects of business. Individuals seek personal productivity as well as to contribute in a way that the overall team’s productivity increases. Technology has changed the field of dreams, with teamwork including members separated by distance, joined by digital assets, and defined by diversity as never before. 

The Value of Stories about Leadership and Teamwork

“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” – Booker T. Washington (1856-1915), Author and Educator

Storytelling has the ability to shape employee performance. Neuroscientists who study the effects of storytelling have revealed that the speaker and those listening to that person often have similar brain activity even though one creates languages and the others in the room process the words they hear. 

A well-crafted and effectively-told story encourages employees that hear it to place themselves within the story. More than hearing the words, they may absorb them in a way that can change their behavior. A talented storyteller has the capability of developing impactful leaders and successful teams. 

Stories about leadership and teamwork often describe frustrating situations, ever-changing deadlines, late night huddles, competing interests, and those breakthrough opportunities and moments when people joined for a shared cause, challenged the status quo, found the essential link or missing piece, and successfully modified one or a few small or pivotal things that changed everything. 

8 Ways to Develop Powerful Stories about Teamwork

1. Share the Classics

Certain teamwork building stories have made the rounds for decades. There are similar versions of the ‘Find Your Balloon” story, for example, a tale that usually imparts the moral that when people refuse to collaborate and hide information, the distance they stay from other team members is an obstacle for both the team and the individual. 

These stories, similar to other common parables one hears outside of the workplace, have importance in sharing and explaining time-honored values. They reaffirm that the team functions more efficiently when we share, collaborate, and work together to solve problems. When teamwork is lacking and members are self-absorbed in their own goals and pursuits, the team suffers. 

2. Change the Story a Little

Similar to the story about the fish that are thrown back to the pond, the foundation of these classic stories sometimes gets a fresh coat of paint to embellish different features or illustrate other possible outcomes. Even if the implied moral of the revised story remains the same, changing the story a little adds freshness and keeps old-timers engaged in valuable conversations and leadership sharing endeavors. 

3. Emphasize Traditions

Companies sometimes create teamwork narratives that relate to a company’s founding story, history, or prevailing traditions that both insiders and members of the general public recognize. The founding story may focus on early trials and tribulations as a way to strengthen the bond between later generations and the pioneers who created the place they now work. 

Stories about leadership and teamwork of this type also frequently focus on corporate logos and symbols, as well as photographs, songs, and other items under copyright that bring back a certain memory or shared experience among a group of people.

4. Use Sports Stories

Sports or sporting events offer a common motif for teamwork stores. Some of these examples include entirely or largely fictional stories, such as a group of boys coming together for a football game with a moral that the team’s goal had greater importance than their individual goals. 

Other stories of this genre focus on recent or historically significant episodes. The Miracle on Ice offers a common example, when a group of young American men joined together to play for the US Hockey Team in the 1980 Olympics. In dramatic fashion, the college and amateur players on this team came together and defeated rivals with significantly greater experience in their successful quest to secure the gold medal. 

5. Make It a Team-Building Experience

One of the best ways of getting creative juices flowing involves a teamwork story that is a team-building experience. Rather than have a single person recount an often-regurgitated tale from yesteryear, the story could have more of a spontaneous, free-form nature as the tale winds its way around the room. 

Similar to the slugger, utility player, or pinch-hitter who grabs their bat when it is their turn in the lineup, team players embellish and expand upon the story based upon what others have shared before them. Such impromptu speaking exercises may be uncomfortable or unsettling for some, but they inspire leadership and require involvement from all team members who come together as a unit. 

6. Focus on the Big Names

Some stories about leadership and teamwork focus on popular names and brands. The protagonist may be a well-known executive, the hero (or perhaps one of the villains) may be a notable company on the verge of greatness, or a competitor that missed the mark while another team stole its thunder. 

Teamwork stories that place an emphasis on a person or entity from a specific period of time in the past may also allow for intergenerational dialogue within the team. Younger members may know a few songs by the Rolling Stones, but not understand some of the moments in the band’s history when their ongoing commitment to a cause larger than each of them would add significant value to the band.

7. Focus on the Individual . . . for the Team

Occasionally, powerful stories about teamwork emphasize individual achievement throughout much of the narrative. These stories about great workers offer inspiration and examples that serve as individuals team members should respect and possibly emulate. A teamwork story can focus largely or almost entirely on the individual as a way to show how that person struggled, persevered, confronted challenges, and overcame the odds for an opportunity to help a larger cause.

Babe Ruth had an exceptional baseball career. This single player played a significant role in helping his teammates win many championships and gain greater recognition. Although Ruth was an individual, he brought a “team of talents” to the field, though his skills as a pitcher, batter, fielder, and mentor to other teammates. As he elevated his performance, the team’s stature elevated as well.

8. Propound upon Pivotal Moments

Similar to a cliffhanger in the television show just before the commercial, life often includes pivotal moments where an opportunity taken or ignored has bold consequences in the future. Pivotal stories allow the listeners to understand the thinking that occurred at a moment where a single decision that had to be made would have a ripple effect of significant consequences. 

Stories about leadership and teamwork with pivotal moments explain how responding to a situation allows the protagonist to overcome a significant challenge or score a major victory. These stories explain the historical context of how a person or organization deals with change. 

Read More:

No Comments

    Leave a Reply