The pressures facing today’s leaders are like nothing we’ve seen before. Between navigating the new hybrid work environment to ensuring teams have the members needed for success amidst the “Great Resignation,” your organization’s leaders need all the help they can get—which makes leadership training now more critical than ever.
But if you’re going to pull your people away from their everyday jobs and make the financial investment in leadership training, you have to know it will be worth it. You need to be sure that the training will break through the noise and impact your leaders in memorable and meaningful ways that will provide lift throughout the organization.
And the best way to ensure your training is meaningful? Through stories.
Storytelling is the most effective way to relay information. Just think about the last event or meeting you attended: What do you remember? Is it the detailed tips and tricks, or the story that helped you make connections to your own life? We’re willing to bet it’s the story because our brains are specifically hardwired to understand and follow stories—we naturally remember them more than anything else.
So as you consider which stories you should share in your next leadership training, let’s take a look at 5 benefits that demonstrate why you need to invest in leadership training now—and how storytelling plays a role in each one.
1. Increase Productivity
Good leaders increase productivity—and leadership training should empower your people to accomplish this key objective. Training creates opportunities for employees to set specific goals that go beyond their current positions, responsibilities, or mindset. This, in turn, allows leaders to share pertinent goals to other employees, increasing productivity as the entire team works together toward these newly formed goals that stretch beyond the status quo.
But what’s the best way to relay the information and create goals to reach new heights? It’s through the power of words. However, the inspiration doesn’t come from corporate words, rote speeches, or company statistics. Rather, encouragement and motivation take root when the words are the personal, vulnerable, and memorable words of a story. Ultimately, it’s through the power of storytelling that your people will feel connected to your company and to each other, inspiring loyalty and motivation as they seek to grow beyond current realities.
2. Attract Talent, Boost Engagement, and Improve Retention
As we face the “Great Resignation” recruiting has become more important than ever. Leaders who are trained in and understand the power of storytelling can help attract the kind of people you want in your company, which happens when potential employees see and feel what it’s like to work within your organization.
However, recruiting is just the beginning. Retention is vital, and turnover is more often a result of bad management and poor leadership than a matter of money. (You may have felt this yourself in the past… so many of us have experienced this first hand.) The fact is that it’s up to your leaders to keep your best employees around—so investing in the right leadership training is a crucial part of reducing turnover!
One of the most critical skills to ensure your leaders have mastered when you’re focusing on retention is the ability to help current employees understand how their specific skills fit into the company’s overall story. Giving each person a role that’s clearly connected to the organization’s story builds loyalty, making this a powerful way that story can help bolster your leadership training as you see to attract talent, boost engagement, and improve retention.
3. Improve Organizational Culture
Investing in leadership training also sends the message that you care about your people and the work that they do—so much so that you’re willing to support, fund, and encourage their development. It tells them that you want them to improve and believe that they have the potential to be more, inspiring them to exceed performance expectations.
Storytelling takes this benefit of leadership training to the next level. When leadership training is tackled through a storytelling approach, attendees are not only more likely to remember the training, but they are also more likely to engage with and enjoy the experience—as well as make breakthroughs that have impact far beyond their work life. This further reinforces the idea that the company values them as a whole person and builds a strong workplace culture centered around the ideas of growth, development, and safety.
I’ll never forget the story a receptionist told when describing the impact of her role at a company retreat my team facilitated. She recounted a time when a customer fainted, and even though there was nothing in her job description or training to prepare for this, she leapt to her feet to help the customer and her anxious family, until the person came to. That story is now used to onboard people in similar front-facing roles, demonstrating that sometimes, your role expands beyond the tasks of your daily routine.
4. Build Effective Work Teams
And the benefits of leadership training go far beyond the leaders who attend! Individual employees benefit just as much as the leaders and managers attending the training. How? When leaders have greater clarity about themselves and their responsibilities, their sense of direction and effectiveness trickle down to those they are leading, both implicitly and explicitly.
The power of story plays a role here as well: By teaching your leaders through stories, you’re not only making the training more meaningful and memorable for them—you’re also making it easier for them to share with their team members. They’ll be able to more easily influence their team and unify their vision because the message is already packaged into a story for them, making it easy for the impact of your leadership training to spread far beyond the leaders who are in attendance.
5. Return on Investment
In business, everything comes back to ROI. So, ultimately that’s the biggest question regarding leadership training: Is it worth it financially? If the 4 benefits above aren’t enough to convince you, the ROI of leadership training can also be seen in the numbers.
A 2019 case study performed by Training Study demonstrated just how much leaders benefited from leadership training and how much would be lost without it. The study analyzed a two-day training event for first-time managers and new leaders at Verizon. Within the first three months following the training, the business saw an ROI of 29%. Moreover, the final annualized ROI was 415% for the company. They saw a return of $4.15 for every $1 invested.
The case study authors reported, “Our case study proved: New leaders were adding more value to the business the sooner they went through the training.”
Additionally, the research demonstrated that companies would lose more money the longer they put off leadership training. When you think about how many new employees are stepping into leadership roles within your organization, the numbers quickly add up in favor of leadership training—both for potential improvement and potential profit.
Ensuring Effective Leadership Training Through Storytelling
Between the potential benefits of leadership training as well as the potential loss from its lack, it’s clear that the advantages of leadership training far outweigh the cost. Though it may seem like a large investment, it’s an investment you can’t risk not making.
However, it’s vital that you invest in training events that are truly as effective as possible. Leadership training that has a storytelling approach is the best way to help your employees get the most out of their experience and increase your organization’s development.