Ep 6 | Decoding Future Leadership | Systems & Storytelling
EPISODE 6: Systems & Storytelling
We now live in a world where talent is rarer than capital. Decoding Future Leadership is an audio-visual podcast breaking open the capabilities, technologies, growth strategies and mental fitness required to lead our future working world. This week, June Parker, General Manager of Leadership and Coaching at Fisher Leadership, interviews business storytelling extraordinaire Gabrielle Dolan.
In the hybrid world, should leaders be using stories to change the system, or are we at a point where we need to use systems to change the story?
This week’s guest is business story-telling extraordinaire Gabrielle Dolan. “Ral”, as she likes to be called, is a renowned keynote speaker, a sought after advisor when it comes to both leadership and brand storytelling and a prolific author of texts including of “how to be you and lead true’, ‘Stories for work’, and ‘Hooked’, designed to help us realise that we all have a story to tell. In this episode, June and Ral dive into the connection between stories and systems. June Parker heads up the Leadership and Coaching suite of services in Fisher Leadership’s CogNative business. June is a highly experienced and qualified executive coach who has built a state of the art proven methodology around creating the right learning environments to unlock people’s full potential.
In the working world of today, organisations can sometimes feel as though they are held together with a collection of systems, however in this conversation, we begin to see that stories lay the groundwork for interconnectivity, and the systems are there to hotwire the stories in a timely and insightful manner.
When it comes to the DNA of organisations, June asks, ‘Why don’t we use origin stories more successfully as companies?’ Ral explains how underestimated the power of the origin story can be. She says that providing a big picture, a historic view of the company purpose can have a great impact of culture. And when culture is aligned around where it come from, systems change towards what the company might look like in the future becomes much more seamless.
Technology has accelerated and enabled the transformation of the workforce, there is no doubt. But Ral insists that it is important to overlay storytelling as a powerful way to engage and connect with employees. She says the pandemic has enabled us to realise what a pivotal role the human connection plays in performance, productivity, alignment to purpose and of course, culture. Technology has enabled that human connection to remain during Covid, by becoming a storytelling platform; an amplifier of the human condition.
June discusses the criticality of storytelling and systems alignment at the point of onboarding a new employee. This is a moment in time where expectations are set, understanding is nuanced, and trust and respect can be embedded into relationships.
“A really good induction program will always be about stories.”
Ral explains, “the way we do things, the culture of a workplace can only really be conveyed through story-telling.” Ral speaks about being able to imbue purpose, values and methodology with meaning at this point in time. She emphasises how powerful the moment of a new leader can be. “Because of the technology we can introduce ourselves globally to the team.” As such, the capabilities of storytelling and technology literacy converge and come into play.
So how do stories impact systems change, at a time when so many claim to have change fatigue?
Ral says that “Zoom fatigue is like change fatigue. It’s not zoom, it’s change that is the problem, it’s boring meetings and uninspiring change that makes us tired.” Ral insists that such issues simply come from the inability to communicate the why. And technology is the enabler of this ‘why’.
June brings up the insight that people resent change being done to them. That unless they have bought into a culture, where there is that level of trust and relationship, change can feel like pushing a bus full of people uphill. However, when everyone is aligned on story of excitement and logical aspiration, people can’t get on the bus fast enough! And change happens easily.
How can we use people management systems to tell better stories?
Ral sighs and brings up call centres. She says they are “a relic of how ‘not-normal’ our normal was”. Stories and systems must combine not just to manage people but to inspire people. Technology absolutely lends itself to stories.
Stories that are embedded in systems enable smooth transitions between one role and another, they enable upskilling in an empowered way, they empower training and development, they make sense of rewards programs. And all the while, using the system to share the human stories that add up to systems change, allows everyone to experience the greater ‘why’.
Where is the interplay between data and emotion to drive a point home? Ral answers this question succinctly. She says, ‘emotion colours the data’. Ral goes on to remind us of Logos, Ethos and Pathos. People buy on emotion, and justify on data and logic.
Stories can be as objective as data can be subjective.
In the end, all stories are made up of data, and all data is made up of stories.
The PeopleStrong Talent Operating System is an AI-powered integrated talent management platform that helps organisations recruit, mentor, retain, and engage their future-ready workforce. It takes disparate and distributed data points illustrating the lifecycle of an individual and offers insights for career decisions moving forward.
Decoding Future Leadership is a collaboration between PeopleStrong, APAC’s Customer’s Choice for HR Tech, and Fisher Leadership. Each episode addresses the challenges of a hybrid workforce, with a blend of human capability and HR technology solutions.