Insight article

It’s going to be an emotional couple of weeks…

I can’t deny it, I may have been here at The Storytellers less than two months and should be working hard to make a good impression but, I just spent the last 50 minutes sat at my desk watching the Olympic rowing as the GB women’s pair and the GB men’s eight went for glory.

When the national anthem played as Heather Stanning and Helen Glover picked up their gold medals, the first female British rowers to ever win gold at an Olympics and the first GB gold medal of London 2012, emotion coursed through me – relief, pride and sheer elation. Perhaps it’s because I used to row and I have a teeny weeny insight into the investment, both physical and emotional, that goes into racing, and what winning feels like, but I’m pretty sure it’s not just rowers who were emotional watching that. I defy anyone to watch Helen Glover crying as the National Anthem plays and not feel something.

Those girls had a story. Glover has only been rowing for four years and as a pair they were only put together three years ago and could then have been described as the reserve crew. Since that day however, they have risen to dominance with a strong vision always in mind; winning gold at the home Olympics of London 2012. As spectators, the commentators informed us of their story, their vision was clear and their emotional investment was plain to see. By understanding their goal and witnessing their emotion we, as spectators, connected with their story and felt part of it, wanting them to succeed.

It is this strong connection to a story that we work with our clients to achieve with their employees. A clear vision and emotional investment from the leaders needs to be seen, felt and believed by the employees. If leaders show emotion when talking about their business’ story, employees will feel that their leaders are emotionally invested and are therefore more likely to become emotionally invested themselves. Emotion helps employees connect with the business story, feel a part of it and want to live it, in the same way as we as spectators felt and lived a small part of Heather Stanning and Helen Glover’s story with them. 

The challenge therefore, for me as a new Storyteller, is to find ways to convey emotion when talking to clients. If I can use personal stories in my discussions with clients I will naturally display emotion. In this way I should be able to demonstrate, not only through what I am saying but also the way I am saying it, the power of emotion in connecting people and making them feel part of a story. Then, combined with the rational argument that a clear vision provides direction, I should be more effective in helping clients to produce workforces that feel part of the journey their organisation is on and know the direction they are going. Whilst it might not be Olympic gold our clients are aiming for, if they can get their employees half as emotionally involved in their business vision as the British public are in supporting GB sportsmen and women at these home Olympic Games, then they will have a powerful supporting workforce.

Nailia Tasseel