2020 Resolution for Organizations: Tell Your Story

“Stories are the most powerful weapon in a leader’s arsenal.”

2020 Resolution for Organizations: Tell Your Story

It’s January, and you know what that means. It’s time to lose weight, get fit, learn a new skill, start a new hobby, spend less money, get organized and, of course, read more blogs.

January brings the time-honored tradition of declaring New Year’s resolutions. An Ipsos poll conducted in December 2019 found that 38% of Americans planned to make resolutions for 2020. While the custom often gets a bad rap due to perceptions of negligible follow-through and low success rates, the practice of setting resolutions is actually very worthwhile. It provides a reason for self-reflection and evaluation. It sparks goal setting which links us back to our core values and purpose.


Further, according to Psychology Today, resolutions are the language of the brain.

“One of the most important functions of the brain—and the most recent in terms of our evolution—is executive function, a cluster of cognitive abilities that evolved to enable us to set and achieve goals. This brain function is what sets us apart from all other living things. Most other creatures react based on instinct; we take action based on planning.”

This brain science, action based on planning, translates to organizations as well. Thoughtful evaluation and meaningful goal setting enable companies to assess their current strengths and weaknesses, set strategies and align annual objectives and metrics accordingly.

During this season of resolutions, we propose the following for your company: tell your story. And tell a meaningful story.

This is not a glib proposition. According to Dr. Howard Gardner, professor at Harvard University, “Stories constitute the single most powerful weapon in a leader’s arsenal.”

Stories move us. They get repeated – passed on to others. Leaders who can effectively harness the power of storytelling can build fiercely loyal customers and ignite passion and ingenuity in their employees.

Examples of great storytellers in business are plentiful. Steve Jobs built his career on creating brand disciples that repeated stories about their experiences with his products over and over again. Warren Buffett’s annual shareholder letters have become legendary, not because of the facts and figures they contain, but because of the stories he uses to communicate big ideas. Richard Branson famously gathers his team around an actual campfire at corporate retreats in order to elicit stories and spark new ideas.

"Storytelling is a great way to get your views across, highlight how you and your company are different than your competitors, and also to work out new ideas," Branson once said.

While the “why” of storytelling is clear, as with most New Year’s resolutions, it’s the “how” that really counts. To that end, here are three important guidelines to consider as you think about how you communicate your organization’s story.

1. Paint a picture.
Powerful storytelling engages listeners in way that makes them want to go on the journey with you. It evokes emotion. Don’t be afraid the use imagery and details to set the stage. Those are the elements that will make your story unforgettable. Remember the Native American proverb that says, “Tell me a fact, and I’ll learn. Tell me a truth, and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.”

2. Get real.
Great stories, those that we return to time and time again, resonate because they feel real. They reveal conflict and growth. If you only share the highs and successes, your story feels flat and insincere. Share the tough times you’ve endured that make you stronger and better. Would we watch It’s a Wonderful Life year after year if George Bailey never struggled and appreciated his life from the first scene?

3. Practice and hone.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, he suggests it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill. Storytelling is a skill, and practicing will not only improve your delivery, but also allow you to refine the content.

In closing, as we put away the New Year’s confetti and champagne glasses and prepare for a prosperous year ahead, we encourage you to add storytelling to your list of company resolutions. We look forward to hearing yours . We love a good story.

Look for our next blog post in which we will look into the importance and benefits of communicating ESG (Environmental, social and governance) standards.