Backstories and Why They Matter So Much

The power of backstory is that it shapes our behaviors. The power in sharing them is that it builds trust on teams. #culturize @mafost

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In the recent podcast episode and post, we discussed leading with vulnerability. I received a few questions regarding the how-to. I’m sure there are experienced coaches out there who could answer the question better than me. Nonetheless, there are a few exercises that work well when trying to build trust via vulnerability. One of those is the use of backstories. 

This is a vulnerability exercise that a team can engage in at least annually. It’s very simple.

Set aside a small amount of time to intentionally talk about backstories. The little unknown narrative that each of us carries. The power of a backstory is that it shapes our behavior.

So here’s the skinny on how-to.

  1. Each person on a team shares a short experience that shows a triumph in their life.
  2. Continue sharing backstories, but on the second round, each person gives a backstory that shows a challenge they’ve faced.

This exercise doesn’t have to stay solely on professional experiences. It can go into childhood challenges. But it’s certainly not group therapy or anything of that nature.

The backstory exercise is a small step toward increased vulnerability. It’s a minor opening up of who we are and gives our team insight into why we do what we do.

Oh yeah, there’s one final thing.

And this is the most critical piece.

You, the leader, must go first.

You must lead with vulnerability.

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PS – Today’s episode of the podcast is titled Magnified Side Effects of Clarity. I hope you get a chance to listen. If you have thoughts or questions for the podcast, you’re invited to share them here.

This exercise is one small step for teams to build trust and commitment. #culturize @mafost

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