The Best Leaders are Storytellers

Julia Kanouse

CEO at Illinois Technology Association (ITA)



"For too long companies have relied on just supplying numbers, data, statistics, analytics and so on to provide holistic insights and ideas for change. Presentations often take the form of a slide deck or PowerPoint presentations followed by a simple Q&A. These data-driven observations certainly have their place in imparting knowledge and understanding but too often leaders fallback on these methods alone to provide the big picture."

Actions taken

  • Use stories to communicate and educate about your brand and focus.
  • "We followed the advice from the feedback we were getting from our blog column. Therefore, for the Second Annual Chicago Tech Summit last year, we worked diligently to bring a slate of our most engaging and actionable content ever. Through the power of storytelling, the summit tackled technology trends that are impacting the local ecosystem and showcase how some of Chicago's best technology companies are conquering universal challenges."

Lessons learned

  • "Even with today's technology and multimedia bells and whistles, the core takeaway for anyone in the audience is the story. Stories are embedded in our DNA. Tales, ancient traditions and fables have been passed down from many millennia ago until today. Stories are universal and connect us through shared experience with long-lasting lessons and immutable truths."
  • "The lesson here is that numbers are only part of the story. All types of people from businesses, investors and consumers are looking for genuine connections. Personal and professional narratives bring us together with common threads and hardships that we all face as we continue to build and shape the future of tech."
  • "The best teachers and trainers are storytellers. Consequently, the best leaders are as well. Steve Jobs upon returning to Apple created the billion-dollar market innovator we know today by building it squarely on how technology weaves seamlessly into our lives. The core premise of Apple products from the iPod forward revolves around an interaction, a concept, a story."
  • "Individuals who identify and develop a core story create authentic meaning for organizations, brands and causes et al... This is a purpose that others can participate with, believe in and share."
  • "Enduring news brands such as 60 Minutes and the ever-resurgent TED Talks revolve around the core storytelling concept. Across subject matter and industries these brands connect with audiences from all backgrounds across the globe. The power of storytelling is undeniable because at their core, stories are about connection and collaboration."
  • "Too often we lean heavily on stats, facts, and figures to demonstrate our passions and successes. We cite rankings and lists that indicate our placement and importance, but our industry revolves around innovation and telling new stories."

Source: Exec Spin: The Power of Storytelling

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Julia Kanouse

CEO at Illinois Technology Association (ITA)

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