How sharing personal stories enable leaders to build trust

Leaders and personal stories

The currency of any leader is a combination of trust, results and relationships. How well these elements are communicated determines their success.

A great way to build trust is to be truthful and share stories about yourself. Personal stories have the power to connect with audiences. When people know how you faced adversities and how you overcame them, it gives them an insight into the human side of you.

John Chambers, former Chairman and CEO of Cisco, shared one such personal fact about his learning disability, one he never thought he would share.

It was in the mid-1990s during a Take Your Child To Work Day event. In the audience were 500 employees and their children. A young girl raised her hand to ask a question but was unable to get the words out and broke down. Chambers, who was then CEO, walked off the stage to find out what happened, she told him she is dyslexic and had trouble asking her question.

Chambers responded, “I’m too”. He shared with her about his disability and how he manages it.

As he was getting back on stage, he realised his lapel mic was on and he had accidentally shared with 500 people about his learning disability. At first, he thought he had gone too far in sharing this personal fact.

By evening, Chambers had received a bunch of emails, messages, and voicemails from people telling him that they felt connected with him more than they had in any previous interaction. They told him they got to know him on a personal level.

People usually see an invisible fence around a leader. Sharing personal stories of challenges and fears and how they overcame them conveys to others they are as human as everyone else.

Such a story helps leaders connect with people and build trust.

Find out more about how leaders can use storytelling with their teams.

About The Author
Vinod Krishna

Vinod Krishna is a brand storytelling trainer and consultant at DustyPaths.
He brings 3 decades of experience in leading people, projects, and businesses
to forge new paths in brand storytelling and leadership development.
He is an avid barefoot runner, trekker, theater artist, and photographer.
Connect with him on LinkedIn