ABN AMRO: Responsibility / employee engagement
Working in the interest of people, the company and the world. That requires a corporate attitude based on people and the meaning the company can offer them. Using storytelling as a communication tool has offered several advantages to this global banking and insurance group:
- Storytelling is personal and brings the story closer to employees.
- Storytelling cultivates a greater understanding for what the organisation does.
- Storytelling creates a warmer, more sympathetic and human feeling.
- Storytelling builds trust, connection and action using credible stories.
Why is storytelling essential for engaged leadership?
Leaders are role models. Earning employee respect as a leader is the first essential key to building employee engagement. It is what leadership is all about.
Employee engagement is bolstered by the respect employees have in your leadership. That translates into higher customer satisfaction and greater financial performance. Investing your efforts in building leadership respect is what makes the difference.
Build leadership competences. This includes technical competence, but more importantly, competence in decision-making, problem solving and dealing with difficult or complicated matters calmly and capably. Be bold and brave enough to acknowledge your own strengths and weaknesses. Talk to people whose insight you trust and respect.
Be a role model in integrity and trust. It is important to let people know how you have come to your decisions. This is especially true for challenging decisions, because the final outcome will inevitably require compromise on at least one value. Explain how you view the pros and cons and allow people to see that you are making what may be an unpleasant decision for the right reasons.
Be humble and ask great questions. You will earn more respect than those who believe they are right about everything. But more importantly, asking for ideas and input help you get the most out of your employees. Find a balance between being humble and commanding respect. Remain open-minded, listen and ask questions.
Respect the strengths of others. Seeing and acknowledging the strong points in others helps you quickly earn their respect. Moreover, this sets an example of behaviour that helps build a very positive company culture and organisation. But it is important to always be sincere in this regard.
Be visible and transparent in order to gain respect. As a leader, you are a role model. You need to ensure that people can see how you make decisions and can understand your reasoning. This is not a matter of self-promotion – this is how you earn the respect you need for your employees to feel engaged and to be able to do their best work.
Mistrust and disrespect thrive in dark corners, veiled by a lack of information and insight into what is really going on. Lead your team from the front lines every day – if not physically, then digitally. Share your stories, ask questions and be present, visible and make yourself known. Be the leader, not just of a company, but of a community of people.
Towards a new company culture with storytelling leadership
ABN AMRO says: “Our strategy calls for a new culture. After all, we can only change the organisation if we change ourselves. We are a bank that creates space for people and organisations to fulfil their dreams and ambitions, both large and small. This is at the heart of everything we think and do. We are extremely devoted to our clients, open-minded, creative, decisive and we adapt quickly. We want to get things done together, we show trust in each other, we are eager to learn, and we are not afraid to make mistakes. This are the changes we want to make.
The leadership team understands that as leaders, they are the role models in charge of facilitating that change. Earning employee respect as a leader is the first essential key to developing employee engagement. It is what leadership is all about.Trusted, professional and ambitious, our core values are the values that characterise our organisation. They express how we want our clients to experience us.”