Storytelling — once the stuff of childhood nighttime rituals — has grown up and is quickly becoming a go-to tool in the very adult world of business. MBA programs, workshops, and coaches all offer strategies and support to help today’s leaders craft a better story.

And it makes sense. According to Pamela B Rutledge, Ph.D., in her post on Psychology Today, “The Psychological Power of Storytelling,” “Stories are how we think. They are how we make meaning of life. … Stories are how we explain how things work, how we make decisions, how we justify our decisions, how we persuade others, how we understand our place in the world, create our identities, and define and teach social values.”

The advantages of the story

Those who understand this dynamic can elevate the quality of their leadership — and their results — by leveraging the natural human propensity to make sense of the world around us through stories. (read more…)

PB Americano Globe_2This post is sponsored by PayPal.

Many entrepreneurs want to improve the world around them while expanding their companies.

Having a social mission can be one of the most rewarding aspects of starting an e-commerce business, but it’s not as simple as writing a check to your favorite charity at the end of the year.

Small-business owners who give back stress the importance of adaptation and the need for accountability. At the same time, working with nonprofit partners can help a company reach more customers. Here are a few tips from small businesses that have successfully incorporated social missions into their business models.

Tip #1: Be flexible in how to best serve your cause

“Understand that being socially responsible in an effective way relies on evolution, not revolution,” says Jeffrey Malkoon, founder of Peanut Butter Americano, a business he formed with the goal of supporting impoverished people in Latin America after spending time volunteering in Uruguay. (read more…)

What are the most important three words for any relationship between a manager and employee?

No, it’s not “I love you.” Now that would be inappropriate, although not everyone would agree with that opinion. Love their jobs, yes. Love their managers or employees? Eew!

No, the most important three little words are: “I trust you.”

Trust is the foundation that a positive manager-employee relationship is built on. The absence of trust leads to micromanagement, fear, risk-aversion, backstabbing, destructive rumors, a lack of innovation, mistakes, and a lack of engagement.

What does trust look like? It’s all in the eye of the beholder, but here’s a starter list from both the manager’s and employee’s perspective:

When an employee says “I trust you” to their manager, it means:

  1. When I share good news and accomplishments with you, you will let your boss and others know.
  2. You won’t claim credit for my accomplishments.
  3. When I admit a weakness, you will work with me to improve myself, not hold it against me on my performance review.
  4. (read more…)

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” ~ Henry Ford

One way for leaders to develop a strong bond with their people is to roll up their sleeves and get to work. Not just their own work, but the work of their direct reports, as well as their reports’ reports.

Take time to sit in various offices and seats within the organization and seek to develop new skills and make connections on different levels. Ask about existing challenges within the company and develop empathy for those who are tasked to address them regularly. Brainstorm with staff about how best to address these issues to optimize performance. By bringing yourself down to your people, you will gain their admiration as someone who really seeks to know their situations and improve them.

Of course, another significant benefit is the knowledge that you will learn more about parts of the company about which you are presently not too familiar. (read more…)

Collaboration is a powerful tool organizations can use to boost employee engagement. Working together toward common goals creates a sense of shared values and identity, and strengthens relationships among employees and teams.

Those relationships are key to employees’ engagement levels, which is why engagement surveys often include questions about whether people have friends at work or enjoy the people they work with. And working in a collaborative environment can make people more likely to answer “yes.”

Collaboration improves outcomes

Organizations often try to build a culture of collaboration because it can lead to innovation and higher levels of productivity. Exposure to and incorporation of diverse viewpoints as people work enriches the entire environment. In that way, collaboration has a direct effect on the bottom line.

It also has an indirect effect on the bottom line by helping with employee engagement. Collaborative work gives employees the opportunity to show up and contribute, because everyone has an opportunity to be heard in that type of environment. (read more…)