As a leader, your team is always assessing your motives, consciously and unconsciously. Want them on board? Share your backstory. In this video, learn how to tell an emotionally compelling backstory, even if what you do now isn't exactly "destiny."
- I was working with the new CEO of a pharmaceutical firm, and he was preparing for his first town hall. The company worked in the allergy space and he was a new CEO and he wanted to make a great first impression on his new team. So I asked him, "What do you really want your people to take away?" He said, "I want them to know that the allergy business "is important. "You know, we might not be curing cancer here "but allergies really affect people's lives." So I asked him to elaborate a little bit and he said, "My wife has allergies, and when they act up "it ruins family events for her.
"She had to leave our son's orchestra concert "because she was wheezing so badly "and she was so disappointed. "She had been looking forward to it for weeks." He said, "I don't think people "should have to suffer like that." So I told him, "You should open your talk with that story." At first he pushed back because he's saying, "You know, it's not professional. "Maybe I should keep my personal life separate." He thought his new team might think he was weird or too mushy and emotional. But he really wanted to engage them so he took my advice and he went for it.
He told the story and the reaction from his new team was overwhelmingly positive. In business, we're often taught to strip the emotion out so we can just focus on the business. But this is actually terrible advice. Because, you see, the emotional component of leadership is actually what makes your organization excel. You see, as a leader, your team is always assessing and trying to figure out your motives.
They're either doing it consciously, or more often than not, unconsciously. So make it easy. You might as well just tell them why you're there. Sharing your backstory doesn't mean reciting your resume or presenting some role-specific version of yourself. It's simply an authentic chat about why you are where you are. It doesn't have to be some dramatic sob story or end with a cathartic moment. It just needs to be real.
If you grew up privileged, don't act like ya didn't. If you don't have a degree, don't be embarrassed about it. If your road to leadership was paved with missteps and failure, you're not alone. That is okay. Nothing bad happens when you let people know how much you care. In fact, it's just the opposite. We always want a boss who is all in. When you show your team that you are emotionally all in, it raises the bar for them to do the same.
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- Integrate purpose and performance
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- Integrate an organizational purpose into decision making and strategy