Storytelling as a leadership tool

At Workz, we have specialised in strategic storytelling, and it has proven to be a very effective tool to help our clients facing, and going through, strategic change.

We see storytelling as an essential tool in the leadership toolbox, and as a topic to cover in modern leadership training. So we were happy to help Nestlé when they asked for it.

“We approached Workz seeking their support to realise an important ambition: to strengthen the profile of the Quality Team at Nestlé Purina Petcare. Our goal was to enhance their position in relation to internal stakeholder groups. We collaborated with Workz to design and launch a virtual training program centered around strategic storytelling.”
– Pasquale Monteleone, Head of Internal Communications, Nestlé Purina Petcare

In this case, we were also thrilled by this opportunity to bring our learning methodologies and frameworks on to a virtual platform. This online format made it possible to engage over 40 participants across countries at Nestlé and make an international impact. A key consideration in the design of course was to embrace the opportunity of going virtual without leaving participants feeling detached or disconnected.

This meant building a training program with Nestlé that included a combination of short live sessions (to avoid screen fatigue), pre-reads, homework and not least assigning participants to small learning teams to ensure accountability, engagement and the anchoring of learning points.

The six-week training program was structured around three intensive storytelling modules that included many of our favourite models and frameworks.

Module 1. Storytelling Essentials

This module focused on how to use strategic storytelling as a way to engage with internal and external stakeholders. At Nestlé, it was especially urgent to train experts on how to convey crucial knowledge to non-specialist stakeholders.

Here, we looked at storytelling techniques to introduce a shared language and to create a connection between stakeholders. Basically, this allowed Nestle to get employees on the same page in their shared story. We drew on inspiration from behavioural design and change management and worked specifically with The Hero’s Journey framework.

Module 2. Designing Stories

This module dove deeper into the design of stories. For participants at Nestle this meant creating a sense of relevance and commitment about quality issues and sharing it with internal and external stakeholders. To design a compelling story we worked with the concepts of conflicts, contrast, archetypes, and we drew on inspiration from design thinking and The Core Story Model to better understand the audience and how to move them. 

Module 3. How to Be a Storyteller

In the final module, we focused on how to be a storyteller (‘actio’ in rhetoric) as an individual and as a team.We didn’t focus on presentation skills such as voice and posture, we worked on how to make a story personal, authentic and as a result: impactful.

We explored the rhetorical concepts of Ethos, Pathos and Logos, and combined it with The Story of Self, Us and Now. The latter framework is developed by Harvard Professor Marshall Ganz and uses a simple technique that creates a feeling of ‘being in it together´, which is especially critical during times of change.

Workz not only showed relevant expertise for our needs, they were also able to create and run a program that resonated with our company culture and objectives. There was unanimous appreciation about the opportunity to explore new ways of thinking, communicating and interacting, to build a more coherent and impactful narrative when cooperating with stakeholders within and outside of the organisation, and to take concrete initiative to generate positive change.’

Pasquale MonteleoneHead of Internal Communications, Nestlé Purina Petcare

Is your organization facing strategic change? Reach out and let us show you how your strategic goals can be supported by storytelling techniques.