Why Heads of Engineering Should Master Storytelling

Vitor O.


Why Heads of Engineering should master Storytelling?

Stories help leaders convey ideas in a more memorable way while enabling them to communicate values and align teams to a shared goal. Stories are important for engineering leaders now more than ever, because:

  1. Digital transformation requires openness to change and stories equip leaders with the abilities to express how their organization will adapt and innovate in the face of uncertainty.
  2. Remote work has made connection harder and compelling narratives establish connections between engineering teams and clients through the creation of tension within a story. Good stories offer a chance to humanize leaders to their teams and foster trust.
  3. Comprehending and sharing stories can foster empathy and alleviate anxiety when it aligns expectations. Exploring each other's stories aids in cultivating empathy and fostering a sense of connection in an engineering team.

What are the important aspects a good story?

Key narratives serve as invaluable resources that can be utilized over time to offer inspiration and guidance both within and beyond an engineering team. These stories have specific criteria that enable leaders to clarify relationships and business strategy.

  1. A great story needs to be intriguing, because it has to be able to grab attention and have a reason for the engineering team to notice and process the story. The story should stimulate the target engineering team's senses by being character-centric, thought-provoking, novel, provocative, informative, and/or entertaining.

  2. Authenticity is another important aspect present in powerful storytelling. Authentic stories makes an engineering team not perceive it as being phony or contrived. However, the story does not have to be real. An authentic story could be fictional as long as it is not perceived as being unbelievable. The story must have substance to back up its message.

  3. Another ingredient for a compelling story is the ability to involve an engineering team and draw a team member into the storyline and precipitate a cognitive, emotional, or behavioural response. By involving a team member, the story can evoke feelings about the individual and stimulate to change opinions or take target actions.

  4. Having a specific goal clarifies or advances the engineering team's visibility, personality, and/or value proposition. This story can shed light on not only the current situation, but also a vision for the future.

  5. Storytelling also helps recognize the engineering team's higher purpose. Software engineers who feel like they have a sense of meaning and purpose at work tend to be 3x more likely to stay at their companies, 1.4x more engaged at work, and 1.7x happier at their jobs.

When is a good time to apply storytelling with your engineering team?

  1. When you're hosting a team meeting, you could start or conclude it with a short story related to a project, highlighting achievements, challenges overcome, or lessons learned. When applying a storytelling approach to an engineering team meeting, storytelling can set a positive tone and reinforce team unity.

  2. The use of stories to introduce new engineering team members to the culture, values, and previous successes of the engineering team can help newcomers feel more integrated and motivated to contribute to engineering teams' goals.

  3. Incorporate storytelling when providing feedback can help you to use narratives to illustrate strengths, areas for improvement, and the impact of the work on engineering teams.


Storytelling stands as a cornerstone of effective engineering leadership because it offers a potent means to convey ideas and foster connection that not only inspire action, but facilitates behavioural change. Authenticity, team engagement, and a clear purpose are pivotal elements of impactful storytelling, enabling engineering leaders to cultivate empathy within their teams. By integrating storytelling into various facets of team interaction, from onboarding to feedback sessions, engineering leaders can forge stronger connections and align teams toward common goals.

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Engineering LeadershipLeadership DevelopmentCommunicationCulture DevelopmentFeedback TechniquesCareer GrowthCareer ProgressionCareer LadderTeam & Project Management

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