Author: Stanley Louw

Creating a movement of change – activating transformation

Virtual workshop – Tuesday 5th December 2023

2pm-3:30pm GMT

(9am-10:30am ET, 8am-9:30am CT)

We are hosting a workshop designed exclusively for senior leaders of large, complex organisations responsible for driving change and significant transformations.

In our current environment, new transformational strategies typically need to be implemented every 18-24 months compared to around every 5 years in recent times. For employees, the reality of constant change can result in a state of fear, confusion, cynicism and apathy, in stark contrast to the behaviours that are needed; innovation, agility, resilience and adaptability.

Yet people and culture are often an aspect of transformation that is deprioritised or value-engineered out of investment, considered a nice to have or too hard to tackle and measure. Not having a specific approach to activate people to deliver the transformation results in slow alignment and adoption, reduction in productivity and the risk of missing critical milestones and failing to realise the value of the transformation investment.

In this session we will explore how to overcome common pain points associated with people, culture and behaviour change.

What you’ll experience

  • Gain critical insights into the psychological impact of change and transformation
  • Understand the role narrative plays in creating a powerful movement of change, and the framework you can use within your organisation to activate people behind your strategy
  • Develop skills that can help you as a leader to inspire and influence key stakeholders and your team

Who should attend?

Senior leaders from large complex organisations who are interested in how you can activate people to accelerate change and create organisational resilience during significant transformation. Join us for an interactive story-driven session with a select cohort of your peers, delivered by experts with years of experience working with C-suites of Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 organisations.

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Getting everyone on the same page

Transformation pain point no. 25 

I’ve been involved with enough complex transformation projects to know that leading these in large organisations comes with a unique set of challenges. One of the most common hurdles that we as transformation leaders often encounter is the daunting task of getting everyone on the same page.  Especially across large diverse teams, widely distributed in various locations and departments, with an executive team with different priorities, and an employee base that is already change fatigued. Presenting a united leadership that champions the vision and strategy for the project is a critical initial step for success, but easier said than done. 

What can make it so painful? 

  • Interpretation causing lack of clarity: Different departments might interpret the transformation goals differently, leading to misalignment and confusion. 
  • Communication gaps: Ineffective communication channels can result in key stakeholders being unaware of the bigger picture, leading to resistance and disengagement. 
  • Personal priorities: Team members might prioritise their departmental objectives over the broader transformational goals, hindering overall progress. 

Storytelling as the solution 

Storytelling is a powerful tool to bridge the gap and align diverse perspectives towards a common goal. Through the process of co-creating a compelling narrative with key stakeholders and leaders, rapid alignment and buy-in are established.   

With a compelling story highlighting the significance of the transformation, a united leadership can effectively communicate the ‘why’ behind the changes and instil a shared sense of purpose among all teams.  

Identifying ‘quick wins’ and sharing early success stories builds belief and momentum for others to adopt the change behaviours needed – and critically help activate teams to meet core project KPIs at each stage of the project. 

Through consistent and engaging storytelling to share the vision, and recognise individuals and teams’ contributions to the project delivery and successes, you can establish a coherent narrative that resonates with employees at all levels, fostering a sense of unity and commitment towards the transformation journey. That’s one of many transformation pain points tackled! 

What can Bill Gates and the Rolling Stones teach us about defining leadership moments? 

Leadership is often defined by pivotal moments – those critical junctures where a leader’s decisions and actions can have a profound impact on their team, organisation, or even society. Be it an event, a meeting, a talk or just a memo. These moments can define a leader’s legacy and reveal their true character. While leadership theories and strategies provide valuable guidance, it’s the art of storytelling that can truly illuminate these defining leadership moments.

Thinking back to some great leadership moments that changed the world, I immediately hit some 90’s nostalgia with the Windows 95 launch on 24 August 1995. Bill Gates is in peak-marketing storyteller mode, Steve Ballmer at top volume, with some suspect dancing on stage. Whilst we can look back with some humour now, it is still a great example of a defining leadership moment for Microsoft, but also for the world. At the time, the New York Times called it “the splashiest, most frenzied, most expensive introduction of a computer product in the industry’s history.” In 1995, computers were still mostly for the office and productivity. But Windows 95 brought with it a word that consumers understood: “Start.” Start what? Start anything. Envisioning a brand-new era in home computing for everyone – a story that millions believed and could imagine for themselves, with the Rolling Stones ‘Start Me Up’ as the soundtrack. 

The release was a tremendous success, with Microsoft selling 7 million copies in the first five weeks, and Windows 95 was soon the most popular operating system on the market. The event put not only Windows 95 on the map, but also turned Microsoft into a brand name like General Mills and Ford and shone a bright, international spotlight on the company’s somewhat nerdy and socially awkward CEO. Windows 95 is very likely the first major operating system most people of a certain age remember. 

All because of a brilliant narrative that Bill Gates managed to embed into a real defining moment. A moment that mattered! So how can storytelling capture the essence of these moments and reveal the power of leadership in action? 

Capturing the essence 

Defining leadership moments are often complex, multifaceted events that involve tough choices, ethical dilemmas, and high stakes. Storytelling has the unique ability to distil these moments into a narrative that captures their emotional and moral essence. By weaving a story around a particular event, leaders can communicate not just what happened but why it matters and what it reveals about their values and principles. 

Creating defining moments for your other leaders 

By creating stories that matter in your defining moment or event, you can create an environment that drives inspiration for other leaders inside your organisation. Providing alignment and enablement for those leaders to create their own moments that matter. 

Providing context 

A defining leadership moment rarely occurs in isolation. It is often the culmination of a leader’s experiences, values, and beliefs. Through storytelling, leaders can provide the context necessary for others to understand the significance of the moment. They can share their journey, the challenges they’ve faced, and the lessons they’ve learned along the way, painting a vivid picture of the path that led to the critical decision or action. 

Inspiring others 

Defining leadership moments are not just about the leader; they are about the impact on others. Storytelling allows leaders to highlight the individuals and teams involved, showcasing their resilience, dedication, and contributions. By sharing these stories, leaders can inspire others to rise to the occasion when faced with their own defining moments, fostering a culture of leadership throughout the organisation. 

Transmitting values and principles 

Leadership moments are often defined by the alignment of actions with core values and principles. Storytelling becomes a powerful tool for conveying these values. When leaders narrate how they made a tough decision guided by their principles, it reinforces the organisation’s values and helps team members understand the importance of adhering to them in their own work. 

Building trust 

Trust is a cornerstone of effective leadership. When leaders use storytelling to recount their defining moments with honesty and vulnerability, it fosters trust within the team. Sharing not only successes but also moments of doubt or mistakes demonstrates authenticity and relatability. This transparency can deepen the connection between leaders and their followers. 

Creating a legacy 

Defining leadership moments are often the building blocks of a leader’s legacy. By crafting narratives around these moments, leaders can ensure that their actions and the lessons learned endure beyond their tenure. These stories become part of the organisational folklore, serving as a source of inspiration and guidance for future leaders. 

Encouraging reflection 

Storytelling allows leaders to reflect on their defining moments, gaining deeper insights into their own leadership journey. It prompts leaders to analyse their choices, strengths, weaknesses, and values. This self-awareness can be a catalyst for personal growth and continuous improvement. 

Defining leadership moments are the crucibles in which leaders are forged and their impact is felt. Storytelling is the key to unlocking the transformative potential of these moments, enabling leaders to communicate their values, inspire others, and leave a lasting legacy. Through storytelling, leaders can connect with their teams on a profound level, fostering trust and building a culture of leadership that endures. In essence, storytelling brings these moments to life, allowing us to see the true power and potential of leadership in action. 

Reimagining leadership – imagine what your defining moment will be… 

The power of storytelling in leadership  

Leadership is an art as much as it is a science. While leadership theories, strategies, and skills are important, the ability to connect with and inspire others often separates good leaders from great ones. One potent tool that exceptional leaders have wielded throughout history is storytelling.

Nelson Mandela is a powerful example of how stories are not just for entertainment; they are a powerful means of communication that can inspire, influence, and impact people on a deep emotional level. He skillfully employed storytelling to unite a divided nation and inspire hope during South Africa’s tumultuous transition from apartheid to democracy. As a leader who challenged the status quo, he drew on personal anecdotes of resilience and forgiveness, often drawing from his 27 years of imprisonment, to connect with people on a deeply emotional level.

Mandela’s storytelling transcended mere words; it was a powerful tool for reconciliation, healing, and fostering a shared sense of purpose among South Africans of all backgrounds, even when as a leader in power, accepting those deep divisions could have been the accepted thing to do. As a South African, I personally witnessed and felt this connectedness, particularly during the Rugby World Cup which Mandela placed into the heart of his narrative as a common goal to unite all South Africans.  Through his narratives, he not only conveyed the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation but also instilled in others the belief that change and progress were possible, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges. So how is storytelling such a powerful tool for leaders in business?

Building connection 

At the heart of effective leadership lies the ability to build strong connections with team members, colleagues, and followers. Storytelling helps leaders connect on a personal level by creating empathy, trust, and relatability. When a leader shares a personal story or one that resonates with the audience’s experiences, it humanises them. It shows vulnerability, making leaders more approachable and relatable. This connection fosters a sense of belonging, essential for a motivated and engaged team. 

Conveying vision 

Leadership is about more than just managing day-to-day operations; it’s about charting a course for the future. Storytelling is a dynamic tool for communicating a vision. When a leader tells a compelling story about the future, it provides a tangible, emotionally resonant picture of what could be. This vision motivates people to work toward a common goal and aligns their efforts with a shared purpose. 

Transmitting values 

Values are the bedrock of an organisation’s culture. Leaders who use storytelling to convey values make them come alive. Stories about past challenges, ethical dilemmas, or acts of courage can illustrate the values that guide the organisation. Such stories serve as moral compasses for the team, helping them navigate complex decisions in alignment with the organisation’s core principles. 

Overcoming resistance 

In any leadership role, there will be resistance and obstacles to overcome. Storytelling can be a potent tool for addressing these challenges. When leaders share stories of how they or others faced adversity and triumphed, it provides hope, resilience, and inspiration. These stories remind team members that setbacks are part of the journey and can be opportunities for growth. 

Making complex concepts digestible 

Leaders often need to communicate complex ideas, strategies, or data. Storytelling simplifies the complex by putting it into a relatable context. Analogies, metaphors, and narratives can transform intricate concepts into something accessible and memorable. A well-told story can make a dry presentation engaging and a complex strategy comprehensible. 

Fostering innovation 

Innovation often thrives in environments that encourage risk-taking and experimentation. When leaders share stories of both successes and failures, it creates a culture where taking calculated risks is not just acceptable but encouraged. These stories illustrate that innovation and growth come from pushing boundaries, learning from mistakes, and embracing change. 

Inspiring action 

Ultimately, leadership is about inspiring action. Storytelling has the power to move people to action like no other form of communication. When leaders tell stories that tap into emotions, they ignite passion, enthusiasm, and a sense of purpose. People are more likely to commit to a cause or project when they are emotionally invested in it. 

In the world of leadership, storytelling is a superpower. It forges connections, conveys visions, transmits values, overcomes resistance, simplifies complexity, fosters innovation, and inspires action. Leaders who harness the power of storytelling become not just managers but inspirers, motivators, and visionaries. They create a culture where people are not just employees but collaborators on a shared journey. As you strive to become a more effective leader, remember the transformative potential of storytelling and make it an integral part of your leadership toolkit. Story by story, you can inspire, influence, and impact the world around you. 

Reimagining leadership – imagine what could be achieved if your leaders were storytellers… 


Storytelling Bootcamp – Reimagining Sales

Virtual introductory workshop – Friday 6th October

2pm-4pm BST

(9am-11am ET, 8am-10am CT)

Storytelling is recognised as a non-negotiable skill leaders and sales teams must develop to move from a traditional transactional sales mindset to a strategic narrative outcome-focused mindset. With customers becoming increasingly risk averse and in a state of FOMU (fear of messing up), the ability to shape the story and solution of your product to address their challenges and business outcomes becomes a critical competitive advantage.

Why storytelling?

Imagine captivating your audience – clients, prospects and your sales team – with compelling narratives that resonate deeply. Picture how this will activate the trust, belief and motivation to act, inspiring your team and creating the motivation and capability to adopt new ways of thinking and acting, giving your leads the confidence to invest and your clients the belief to commit to a strong long-term partnership.

What you’ll experience

This introductory session will focus on the development of storytelling skills. We’ll also provide guidance on utilising a story-driven approach to accelerate sales and digital transformation, activating your team to embrace change and apply the discretionary effort necessary to implement it.

Emotional intelligence in sales: Understand the psychology behind storytelling and how it taps into the emotional core of decision-making. Explore techniques to empathise, connect, and influence through the power of your own story.

Leading and motivating your team: Empower your sales team with effective leadership through storytelling. Learn to communicate your vision, values, and strategies in a way that inspires enthusiasm, camaraderie, and extraordinary performance.

Delivering story-driven outcomes in complex organisations: How are other high-performance organisations utilising the nine key drivers of activation to accelerate performance? Get insights based on research and evidence from over 200 global organisations, Fortune 500 and FTSE 100 companies.

Who should attend?

Sales leaders from complex organisations who are ready to transform their approach from transactional to transformational. Join us for an exclusive and immersive storytelling experience with a select cohort of your peers. Mark your calendar for 6th October, and prepare to embark on a journey that will elevate your sales strategy.

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Reimagining sales: It’s time to walk in new shoes

Six steps to transform your sales team through storytelling

Business leaders are facing substantial pressure to deliver above-market growth at the best of times. However, when the global economy is in a weak state, the demands from shareholders become even more acute. Strategic mergers and acquisitions can generate some of this growth, but the fact remains that consistently beating the market requires strong organic sales growth. 

Whilst most organisations have historically seen good sales performance, the stark reality is that buying behaviours have permanently changed and, as a result, so too has selling. In a recent survey by Korn Ferry, they found that 80% of salespeople feel their sales cycles have increased, while their average deal sizes have reduced. The primary reason is seen as corporate customers replacing their fear of missing out (FOMO) with fear of messing up (FOMU) due to recent social-economic events and adverse market conditions. In other words, where customers felt that if they missed out on the potential offered by new solutions, their business would lose out, the reverse is now true. Businesses are increasingly becoming risk averse – which is not good news for sellers.  

Where our sales teams were always brilliant at selling product and service features, thriving in the future will mean we need to build more trust by adjusting our go-to-market and ​sales strategies to be outcomes-based. Our sales teams need to walk in new shoes, and big shoes at that. Requiring a critical new skill – storytelling. In the words of Steven Reinemund, CEO PepsiCo Inc., “To have growth in products, you have to have growth in people”. 

74% of CSOs report they have recently or are currently updating their seller competency profiles for outcomes-based selling

According to Gartner, 74% of CSOs report they have recently or are currently updating their seller competency profiles for outcomes-based selling, and 61% of CSOs are already investing in new technology to enable virtual selling. This drive means a major paradigm shift for sellers, who not only need to build their ability to engage customers differently but must also be able to leverage new sales technologies. 

Storytelling is at the heart of this and goes beyond merely presenting information; it involves crafting compelling narratives that resonate with customers, engage stakeholders, and drive success. It allows us to shift from a traditional sales mindset where we talk to our customers, define our differentiators and then build a story around it, to a strategic sales mindset where we talk to our customers, define our story around their situation and challenges, and then only bring the solution that will provide them with the best outcomes. 

Let’s explore how your sales teams could step into your new shoes by leveraging storytelling – leading to remarkable results. 


1. Aligning your teams and vision at an emotional level

 Evolving your sales approach often requires significant changes in processes, strategies, and objectives. To achieve success, everyone involved needs to be on the same page. Storytelling serves as a unifying force, aligning sales teams and stakeholders around a shared vision. By narrating the story of the organisation’s journey, the challenges faced, and the desired future state, sales leaders can inspire their teams to embrace the transformation and work together towards a common goal. 

2. Reimagining your customer engagements 

 When reviewing your go-to-market strategy, products or services may be repositioned or updated to meet changing customer needs. Similarly, shifting your customer engagements from transactional to conversational is critical. Arming your salesforce with storytelling allows them to not only articulate value propositions in a more compelling way, but also to build long-term relationships based on outcomes and value – driving loyalty and increased revenue. By presenting real-life examples of how the transformed offering has delivered tangible benefits to other customers, sales teams can create an emotional connection and instil confidence in your organisation’s value. 

3. Creating a movement of change 

 Sales transformation often encounters resistance from sales representatives who are comfortable with existing ways of selling or sceptical about the changes. Storytelling can help address these concerns by sharing stories of successful transformations and the positive impact they have had on sales professionals’ careers. Stories of growth, achievement, and personal development can motivate sales teams to embrace the changes and see them as opportunities for growth rather than threats to their routine. Ensuring that your sales teams are emotionally connected to your unique story creates not only a willingness to change, but a powerful movement behind your change. 

4. Building customer empathy

Effective selling requires understanding the customer’s needs and pain points. Storytelling can help sales professionals build empathy with customers by sharing stories of similar challenges faced by other clients and how the transformed solutions addressed those issues. By putting themselves in the customer’s shoes, sales teams can better anticipate and cater to their needs, fostering stronger customer relationships. 

5. Differentiating in a crowded market

In competitive markets, customers are often presented with numerous choices. To stand out from the competition, sales teams must differentiate their offerings effectively. Storytelling provides a platform to create a unique selling proposition that goes beyond product features. By crafting narratives that emphasize your company’s values, mission, and impact, sales professionals can create an emotional connection with customers and differentiate their organisation in a crowded marketplace. 

6. Generating customer advocacy 

New sales motions not only impact the sales team but also influence your overall customer experience. Positive experiences lead to customer satisfaction and, ultimately, advocacy. Storytelling can drive customer advocacy by bringing your organisation and offerings to life in a manner through which your customer can “touch and feel” the value you will bring them. These stories serve to build long-term relationships based on outcomes – driving loyalty and increased revenue with powerful testimonials that potential customers can relate to, enhancing the organisation’s credibility and reputation. 


It is undeniable that storytelling is an invaluable asset in the future of any sales team. By aligning teams and vision, communicating value propositions, overcoming resistance to change, building customer empathy, differentiating in a crowded market, and generating customer advocacy, storytelling empowers your sales professionals to connect with customers on a deeper level and drive success in the midst of transformation. As organisations continue to evolve and adapt, the ability to craft compelling narratives will remain a key driver in achieving sales excellence and sustaining long-term growth.  

 It is no longer just a nice to have, it has now become a business imperative if you want to step into your new shoes!