Leaders Can Build Trust Through Storytelling

3 min readNov 14, 2019


According to a Harvard Business Review survey, 58 percent of employees admitted to trusting strangers more than their own boss.

That statistic is equal parts staggering and alarming.

I believe that you can improve and increase trust among your team through storytelling.

At some point in our lives, a well-told story has struck a chord with us.

Whether it’s found in a book, on a TV/movie screen, or through the spoken word, people are captivated by stories.

They have an immense impact if told in a memorable way, featuring analogies and anecdotes.

Stories should have the same power for leaders in the workforce.

In fact, I think the best leaders are great storytellers.

But an ongoing problem is that leaders and managers often don’t realize the importance of storytelling and how many opportunities they have to leverage this powerful tool.

How to Effectively Tell Stories as a Leader

Change is constant and leaders are forced to find ways to adapt their products, services, and processes to grow with an evolving marketplace.

To do this and to do it well, good leaders infuse an element of storytelling to achieve employee buy-in, maintain morale, and motivate the team.

However, leaders don’t often place enough emphasis on storytelling until it’s too late.

Leaders need to tell the story BEFORE the change occurs, during the change, and then reinforce the narrative AFTER the change.

Leaders need to continually focus on building the story around a multitude of factors that include:

  • Their WHY and their company’s WHY
  • The company’s rituals and culture
  • What is happening and how things are changing
  • The products and services
  • The competition
  • The processes

Don’t Miss Out on Storytelling Opportunities

Storytelling for leaders shouldn’t be limited to big presentations to the board, employee town hall meetings, speeches, or interviews with media.

Storytelling can and should be leveraged in every encounter at the workplace.

Each meeting provides an opportunity to tell a story.

Each conversation that you have with an employee is another.

The same goes for emails, text, voicemails, you name it.

If there’s a medium to tell a story, you should be doing so.

This all culminates in the realization that the first step for leaders when it comes to leveraging storytelling is to understand that opportunities to tell a story are all around them.

Most leaders don’t realize this so they miss opportunities to reach, influence and engage key audiences.

Sometimes it’s because they think the interaction is too small to take a formalized storytelling approach.

Other times, it’s because they actually want to be more formal and fail to tell stories that educate and motivate.

How to Build Trust Through Storytelling

If you want to build trust through storytelling, you need to take the first step in acknowledging that you’re missing out on storytelling opportunities.

Once you’ve come to this realization, you need to build a plan to start leveraging as many of those opportunities as possible to tell memorable stories that make an emotional impact on your audience.

As a leader, you don’t want your employees to feel like you’re an elusive entity. Through effective storytelling, you’ll be able to add a layer of humanization that will help form and strengthen a connection with your employees.

Whether it’s one person or 100 people, you want whoever is listening to you to take personal meaning from your story.

Storytelling has the power to build trust. Your commitment to delivering your message every chance you get is what will strengthen that bond.

Originally published at https://massolutions.biz on November 14, 2019.