Leveraging C-Suite stories for company success
It’s easy for employees and ordinary people to imagine C-Suite leaders operating from the vantage point of an ivory tower, sitting at the top of the organizational totem pole and remaining somewhat disconnected from the company’s everyday concerns.
The truth is, C-Suite executives, often more so than anyone else, are tuned in to the pulse of their organization’s story — the story above all stories, their Capital S Story — and are deeply familiar with the value of the services or products their organization provides. These are the measurements needed to drive sustainable success and business results, and the factors that differentiate their organization from others like it in the industry.
C-Suite executives are some of the most fluent business storytellers, but many of them are unaware of the value of leveraging their organization’s authentic Capital S Story for streamlining internal and external messaging, hiring and retaining talent, building and executing effective marketing strategies, and engaging with audiences in lasting ways.
In his December 2022 webinar, “The C-Suite Guide to Storytelling,” WordWrite Chief Storyteller Paul Furiga shared his insights about C-Suite storytelling — specifically, how to uncover and develop a company’s Capital S Story, where to share it, and what a company’s archetype communicates about its values and success.
At the beginning of client engagements, Paul and the WordWrite team often collaborate with clients, particularly those in leadership positions, to identify the organization’s archetype — a shortcut to understanding the company — based on its characteristics, as well as its mission and values. There are 12 archetype families, and each family falls in one of four buckets: structure, freedom, prestige and belonging.
This trademarked process is called StoryCrafting, and it’s specifically designed to uncover and develop a unique Capital S Story, which can be further defined as why someone should buy from you, work with (or for) you, invest in you or partner with you.
Organizational stories are complex (as they should be), and it’s nearly impossible to boil a company down to just one characteristic. Most organizations embody combinations of two or more archetypes or archetype families, such as a mix of Explorer and Champion, for example, which combine qualities like power and supportiveness with curiosity and courage.
When determining their company’s archetypal narrative, C-Suite leaders must tap into their why — the driving force that motivates them to get up every morning and produce results for customers and communities, and, in turn, convinces customers to care about what the company does and how it benefits them.
In his webinar, Paul used Center for Victory, a personal and professional life coaching organization in Pittsburgh, as an example of a successful business story and archetypal narrative in action. Center for Victory falls under the Champion archetype because of how it serves as a champion for individuals and organizations. Since working to refine and redefine the organization’s story, Center for Victory has infused the Champion archetype into its brand messaging and assets and used it to communicate its core purpose more effectively to audiences.
There are countless exercises C-Suite executives can do with their teams to generate ideas about their organization’s story, how it’s communicated to clients, and the results it achieves. Some helpful questions to discuss among organizational leadership are:
- Who are we today, as a person?
- What demographics define us?
- What is our world view?
- How do we like to interact with our clients?
There can be many answers to these questions, and the answers may change over time as your company refocuses its marketing and communications strategies to align more closely with its archetype and core purpose, and with changing industry needs and standards.
Additionally, three things to think about during these conversations are:
- Am I happy with how our people share our story?
- Is our vision reflected in how we talk about ourselves?
- Why or why not? And what will we do about it?
If the answers to the first two are anything other than a definitive “yes,” then it’s time to stop and take stock of what’s holding your organization back from sharing a clear, authentic, relatable story with clients, prospects, industry partners and team members at all levels of the organization.
Though C-Suite executives are generally not the most forward-facing communicators in their organizations, their continued input will speak volumes about where the company is in its storytelling journey, and where it must go to create optimal success and results.
Looking for more inspiration? Read the moving story of TOMS, from the founder’s vision of matching each shoe sale with one shoe donation, to its international grassroots impact that lives on today.