Strengthen your leadership through storytelling

Strengthen your leadership through storytelling
At photo: Katarina Bonde and Anna Fredrixon

Curate your leadership with storytelling

In the fast-paced world of startups, constructing successful teams is essential for triumph. The secret weapon? Leading with storytelling.

Attending a panel discussion at GoWest by GU Ventures this spring might have been a life-changing experience for me. Why? Excitingly, I learned that storytelling – my core profession – is to be known as not just something for marketers. Now, it’s naturally included as a given topic in leadership.

According to Sweden's most prominent leaders, storytelling is a highly powerful tool for leaders to use across all disciplines.

In a dynamic panel discussion featuring influential leaders such as Anna Fredrixon, partner of Norrsken Launcher, and Katarina Bonde, a seasoned board professional representing Mentimeter, the conversation turned to the powerful role of storytelling in building cohesive and robust teams.

Here are 7 recommendations on how to strengthen your leadership:

1. Visionary leadership

Anna Fredrixon emphasizes the crucial role of a leader in actively communicating a clear and compelling vision.

“A leader must always communicate, communicate, and communicate again,” she advises. For Fredrixon, any failure within the organization is a reflection of leadership. “If a mistake happens, it is on the leader. It is the leader's responsibility to align the team with the organization's goals,” she asserts.

This approach ensures that every team member is not just informed but is engaged with the company's vision and direction.

2. Cultivating talent

Retaining top talent is not just about recruitment; it involves inspiring your team to pursue their passions while working towards a common goal.

“Empower your team, allow their passions to guide them, and continually communicate a collective, higher purpose that everyone strives to achieve,” says Fredrixon.

Katarina Bonde agrees, noting that fostering internal relationships and sharing both challenges and successes make a workplace feel like home, enhancing retention.

3. Building a vision together

Katarina Bonde supports this notion with her practice of actively engaging with her team. For Bonde, it’s crucial to dedicate time to building internal relationships and sharing both the highs and the lows with the team.

"People stay where they feel at home," she notes, emphasizing the importance of creating an environment where team members feel valued and understood. "I dedicate time each week to actively engage with my colleagues globally", Bonde states.

This approach not only nurtures a strong company culture but also enhances employees' sense of belonging, which is essential for retention.

4. Empowering through shared purpose

Fredrixon highlights the importance of empowering team members by allowing their passions to guide their responsibilities. By constantly articulating a shared purpose, leaders can cultivate a motivated workforce that strives collectively towards common goals.

“It’s about inspiring the team, allowing each individual the liberty to follow their passion, and constantly conveying a common, higher purpose that all work towards achieving,” she states.

This empowerment leads to a workspace where innovation and passion drive success, resonating well with Bonde’s strategy of maintaining regular, meaningful contact with colleagues to foster a connected and motivated team environment.

5. Adapting to change

Leaders must also be adept at navigating changes in direction. Transparency is key.

“Sometimes you set a vision and goals, but then something changes. It's crucial to communicate this shift to your team: ‘This was our plan, but now this has happened, and so we are adjusting our goals,’” Fredrixon explains.

This honesty not only maintains trust but also keeps the team's motivation aligned with the new objectives.

6. Communication and cultural sensitivity

Furthermore, understanding the nuances of cultural differences plays a significant role in effective leadership.

Bonde highlights, “When I started working in the US, a casual comment made about a colleague led to an unintended dismissal. It’s vital to be aware of what you say and in what cultural context, to avoid such serious misunderstandings.”

7. Leadership as a personal journey

Ultimately, leadership is about authenticity and adapting your leadership style to both your personal identity and your team's needs.

“You need to lead in a way that is true to who you are. It’s not about playing a role but adapting your leadership to fit the team,” concludes Fredrixon.

The unifying power of storytelling

The consensus among these leaders is clear: Storytelling is not just a tool for external marketing but a fundamental aspect of effective leadership.

By crafting a shared narrative, leaders can foster a sense of belonging, motivate their teams, and navigate the complexities of organizational life with agility and grace. This approach doesn't just create strong companies; it builds lasting legacies.

As demonstrated by Anna Fredrixon and Katarina Bonde, incorporating storytelling into leadership practices can transform the dynamics of team development and lead to greater success in the challenging world of startups.

Through consistent, transparent, and meaningful communication, leaders can inspire, engage, and – ultimately – retain top talent.


What are your thoughts on this? Is storytelling the future of successful leadership not only in PR, marketing, and communications but also as the key to powerful and dynamic leadership?