Author: Marcus Iles

How CEOs can activate performance in a world of pessimism

We live in a reactive world. We’re thrown from naysay to doomsday with every news headline. Just as soon as we’d begun recovering from a global pandemic, we were told the war on talent would cripple us. When we looked above the parapet again, we found disrupted supply chains, spiralling labour costs, interest rate rises, a cost of living crisis and the grim reality of a recession. But there is a way forward. As a leader, you know that people thrive on finding solutions in adversity – as long as there is a compelling vision, driven by a purpose everyone can get behind.

Today’s CEO needs a story that will activate

You may well have your strategic response for your organisation in place already. But, in these turbulent times, a strategy isn’t enough. Today’s CEO needs a story that will activate: A clear, simple yet inspiring story of the journey your business will take over the next 12-18 months in order to survive the recession, and minimise the human impact of the downturn. The success of your organisation will depend on whether people, both internally and externally, believe your story. Start with your employees. Allow them to contribute to the journey the business is on; maximise their efficiency and productivity; empower them to take action; encourage them all to pull in the same direction. 

To activate your strategy, your people must be emotionally connected to it

Understanding strategy on a rational level – even if that strategy is compelling and well communicated – is not enough to change behaviours on its own. To make a difference, people need to understand their role in your journey, and the role the journey will play in their personal success. They need a personal, emotional connection that will influence their attitude and actions. They need to actively participate in building and owning their part in the story, continuously contributing ideas for best practice which will improve productivity.

Every day.


A purposeful, unified Story can activate your organisation 

People remember stories. Storytelling is the original and most effective way to communicate and learn. Compelling stories capture the heart and mind. They bring clarity and meaning to complex messages. Stories motivate, spark the imagination and inspire solutions. They provoke action and stimulate change. Stories help us make sense of what we do and why we do it. Stories create an emotional connection. 

By transforming your strategy, vision and values into a compelling business story brought to life in a human way which everyone can understand and relate to, you can activate extraordinary potential in the face of unprecedented pessimism.  Using a practical set of creative, flexible tools and methodologies, your leaders can be equipped to engage others in the story, inspire their teams and stimulate conversations that will lead to change and performance improvement. It is just as important to keep your journey alive by feeding it with success stories that illustrate progress and best practice, recognising the heroes of the organisation and sustaining engagement.

Harnessing the power of storytelling has worked for some of the greatest leaders and organisations in the world, some of which have faced unprecedented challenges in recent months. The result is commitment, energy and active involvement in the execution of strategic change by connecting the whole organisation to the journey the business is on. 

“…as senior leaders who have greater visibility of our strategy, it’s so easy to forget that our people don’t always have access to the same information. There is tremendous power in providing one cohesive story that shows the path to an exciting future.”

Jeff Phipps, Managing Director & General Manager, ADP UK & Ireland