How One Story Can Move Your Vision Forward

Teaching StoriesIf you have been following the 7 Stories Leaders Must Learn to Tell Well series, you know how important it is to build trust before gaining the audience’s permission to share your vision.

Wouldn’t it be unfortunate to finally get to that point just to lose the audience’s attention?  I see it happen all the time, especially when a good teaching opportunity becomes “death by data” or “death by PowerPoint.”

I don’t what that to happen to you… so if you remember one thing from this post, let it be:  teaching stories, when carefully chosen, can illustrate how your team needs to execute in order to move your vision forward.

The Importance of Teaching Stories

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose is one of my favorite reads on the art and science of envisioning and growing a thriving company.  Tony Hsieh, the visionary and CEO of, Inc., walks readers through the story of how the internet shoe company has arrived to the enviable position to produce over one billion dollars a year in revenue.  The Zappos secret sauce — though not secret anymore — is spelled out in a simple phrase, “Powered by Service.”  Every Zappos employee is part of the company’s customer service vision, which means that he or she must understand how to execute the company’s primary core value on a day to day basis.

How does that happen?

Teaching stories.

Annette Simmons says it best:

“Telling your new receptionist where the hold, transfer, and extension buttons are on the console is not going to teach her how to be a great receptionist. However, telling her about the best receptionist you ever knew, Mrs. Ardi, who was from Bangladesh and could simultaneously calm an angry customer, locate your wandering CEO, and smile warmly at the UPS man, gives a much more clear-cut picture of the skills that you want her to display. Later, under stress, her brain is better equipped to handle complex situations if she can ask herself, “What would Mrs. Ardi do?” instead of “Where is the hold button?”  ~The Story Factor

Effective teaching stories combine…

  • the Why
  • the What
  • the How

I won’t lie to you. It takes work to craft and hone effective stories.  But the return is well worth the time investment.

You Need to Become a Great Teacher

Understand here and now that no matter who you lead (whether it is your family, a college classroom, or a multimillion dollar organization) you must aim to be an exemplary teacher because teaching requires that learning takes place… whether you are teaching courage in action… or the intricacies of execution… or what caring and customer service looks like in your business culture… or the steps to get from point A to point B…

Tony Hsieh is an exemplary teacher.  Every thriving member of his organization must become one as well — because every new team player must ultimately learn how to deliver happiness to every customer.

Effective leaders are effective teachers — and storytellers.

Enough said.

Your Turn:

What skills, processes, or behaviors do the members of your team need to learn? How effective are you in teaching them? What anecdotes serve as good teaching stories to help move others, your vision, or your organization forward?

Consider this simple strategy:

  • Become a story collector… specially collecting the stories in your organization.
  • Keep your story arsenal full.
  • Practice telling those stories succinctly.
  • Make teaching stories your secret weapon.


If you need help identifying the stories that can move your team forward, I can help.  Contact me to discuss the possibilities.

Maria Keckler

Maria helps clients clarify the story they want to tell… then designs and delivers training and coaching that align with that story. Whether she’s helping clients design high-impact meetings, communication training, or presentation slides, Maria ensures their message is getting across superbly. Maria is also founder and president of SUPERB COMMUNICATION.

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