Magic in the Room #24: Storytelling for Leadership Impact w/ Special Guest Sarah Elkins

Storytelling coach, podcast host and author Sarah Elkins joins Luke and Hannah to discuss how the stories of our lives provide clues to finding purpose. A big takeaway is how the stories we tell ourselves and others impact the way we show up in the world, and how we lead ourselves and our teams.

What internal messages are holding you back? What stories are you sharing that confirm those messages, and impact the perceptions of the people around you? These are just a few areas that Sarah explores in her podcast and book; Your Stories Don’t Define You. How You Tell Them Will. Today, Sarah reflects on her observations that many still struggle with understanding their pivot points and which stories are impacting their internal messages.


How can a leader use storytelling to either fulfill their organizational purpose or increase performance? When writing a book, most authors begin by creating an outline. Typically, you will start with chapter headings, and they may change. But if you start with that basic structure, it helps you to think more granularly.


Sarah shares her belief that the worst question someone can ask you is, “Tell me about yourself?” If you don’t know what they’re asking about how can you answer? By contrast, if you know in advance that you want to communicate with an individual that you are a compassionate and trustworthy person with integrity, you can tell a story that demonstrates those values. So, if you start with an error, and then move into more granular stories of specific events, that’s a great, place to start.


Many of the personal stories in your life will be from pivotal moments such as when you were at your lowest or when you were most greatly satisfied. But when you dig deeper into the details, you can inspire others when you share them.


However, you can’t be a great storyteller if you’re not also a great listener. Not just listening with your ears, but through a depth of observation too. As a leader, when you share the right story with the people in front of you, and you can bring out their related stories because you’re sharing the right one. But you should be listening intently throughout the conversation for the cues that they’re giving you.


Every time we tell that story, we contribute to it, and so being able to redefine events and pivotal moments in our lives by telling the story differently. There is a reoccurring theme on this podcast that change is almost impossible without a period of reflection. We encourage you to do that work and gain more clarity.


When you are clear on your purpose and shared organizational goal, it will also enable you to make this world a better place for your team, customers, and other stakeholders.


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