We all participate and live in many different “we” groups. This can be your family, project team, organization, service group, etc. What distinguishes a “we” story from a story of self is that a “we” story delivers a shared identity. As we know, leadership does not happen in a vacuum. A relational component and impact on others always exists in leadership, and as leaders, we need to have consciousness and awareness of the context in which we serve. In leadership, we need to be adept at navigating and naming the culture and identity of the group we are leading. A “we” story is an effective tool for delivering a message that articulates a shared identity and a shared vision for the future.
So, what makes up a “we” story? Well, like other stories, it contains the basic components of story – a beginning (challenge), a middle (action), and an end (vision) – but the key distinction is the main character of the story. In the story of self, the main character is you. In a “we” story, the main character is who the group you identified cares about. This is an important distinction, and one that requires further explanation.
In order to determine the main character of the “we” story, we must ask ourselves two key questions: 1) Who is the audience? and 2) who do they care about. It is not a “what” do they care about, but who. What makes a message compelling is that it is about people not things. For example, if I’m working on a project team, and we are charged with delivering a product by a deadline, I would identify that the main character of the story is my team (we) as they are my audience and who they care about is themselves. Yes, they care about the product, but they care more about themselves getting the product out on time.
Once the main character is established (which will always be the collective identity of the group that you identify; e.g. work team, church group, neighborhood association, or as broad as your entire organization), then the story can be constructed from the perspective of the group. To construct the story, use the following questions as a guide:
Challenge: What is the current situation of the group? Vision: What is the situation the group wants to be in? Action: What needs to happen for the group to achieve the vision? The answers, when stated to the group, articulate the challenge the group currently faces, outline the actions that need to take place for the group, and name the vision of the future. Through the “we” story, you can deliver the following outcomes:
1) Name and articulate shared identity
2) Deliver a shared vision for the future
3) Unify the group around a shared task or action
As a leader, effectively identifying and delivering the “we” story is crucial to motivating your group to achieving its highest potential. It is a powerful and useful tool to inspire and motivate your group toward a shared vision, and one that utilizes a tool that we all understand: story.
To learn more about how to utilize the “we” story, please contact us.