I’m writing the research report from the Communities of Practice research project today: this is exploring how people engage in CoPs, and the barriers that may prevent them from doing so. The output will be a series of guidelines and ideas to develop the skills and capabilities to join, form, and support, these specialist communities. One question really struck me: ‘What would help you to tell a story’.
63 people said that they wanted ‘mentoring to boost confidence in how to do it’. 38 wanted ‘time set aside just to address storytelling’, whilst 28 wanted ‘tools’. 26 requested ‘information on how to tell stories’, whilst only 11 stated ‘less restrictive organisational policies’. 7 people were already very comfortable telling stories, and wanted ‘no support’, whilst 4 said stories were ‘not relevant to them’. Only one said that they wanted ‘examples of good stories’.
To me, this give a clear picture, albeit in a small sample size: we know what stories are, and don’t feel particularly restricted in telling them, but people want space, and support, to develop their skills. This, for me, speaks to the importance of ‘Storytelling’ in Social Leadership: strong storytellers, who can help others to succeed. Not purely around technical aspects, and certainly not to give good examples (we are all, in our way, story experts already), but to nurture and develop these skills, and, crucially, to hold others safe as they learn to be great themselves.
That is a core notion of Social Leadership, indeed, of any type of leadership: to hold people safe.
What would help you to tell a story?