Michael Freund, Founder and Chairman of Shavei Israel, has long championed the transformative power of storytelling in organizations. Throughout his illustrious career, he has recognized that narratives serve more than an entertainment purpose; they are potent instruments capable of inspiring profound support and fostering a sense of unity within an organization.
Before delving into Freund’s insights on storytelling, it’s essential to understand the man behind the message. Michael Freund, a former Deputy Communications Director in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, founded Shavei Israel, an organization that assists “lost” and “hidden” Jews worldwide to return to their roots.
Freund’s dedication to storytelling is rooted in his own experiences. “The stories of the people we help at Shavei Israel have been my greatest inspiration,” he says. “Their journeys back to their heritage have shown me the profound impact of narratives on personal and community identity.”
The Power of Narratives in Business
In the corporate world, stories captivate more than plain facts or statistics. While numbers and data lend credibility, it’s the narratives that evoke emotions and humanize the figures. They allow us to visualize the human experiences behind cold, hard data, thus bridging the gap between abstract information and palpable, real-world experiences.
“I’ve always aimed to create a narrative around our mission at Shavei Israel,” says Freund. “It’s more than presenting our achievements; it’s about showcasing the transformative impact we’re making in individuals’ lives.”
Authenticity in Organizational Storytelling
Freund’s approach to storytelling doesn’t involve spinning grandiose tales. Instead, it’s about authentically sharing the organization’s journey, values, and impacts. It’s about sketching a vivid image of the organization’s past, its future trajectory, and, most importantly, why it matters. This narrative serves as the organization’s north star, aligning and inspiring all its members.
“Authenticity is at the heart of our stories,” says Freund. “Our narratives reflect our genuine experiences and the values we hold dear. They resonate because they come from a place of truth and sincerity.”
Stories as Tools for Building Culture and Customer Loyalty
Narratives within an organization can shape culture and reinforce core values. When employees hear stories about their colleagues living out company values or overcoming challenges, they are more likely to adopt these behaviors. Freund believes that such narratives can foster a sense of belonging and purpose, thereby enhancing employee engagement and commitment.
Moreover, storytelling can cultivate customer loyalty. Stories humanize brands, making them more relatable and engaging to consumers. When customers understand the story behind a product or service, they are more likely to form an emotional connection, which drives brand loyalty and advocacy.
Crafting Effective Narratives
So, how can leaders like Freund craft impactful narratives? The key, he says, is authenticity. Narratives should reflect the organization’s genuine experiences and values. They must be relatable and emotionally resonate with the audience.
Leaders must maintain simplicity and focus in their stories. A compelling narrative doesn’t need to be complex or convoluted; it just needs to convey a clear, powerful message.
Storytelling is a critical tool for garnering organizational support that offers a fresh take on corporate communication. By utilizing compelling narratives, businesses can not only inform but also inspire, creating deep emotional connections that drive engagement, loyalty, and advocacy. In an era of data overload, Freund reminds us that it’s the human element – the story – that truly captivates and inspires.
“Tell your story, and tell it well,” Freund closes. “It’s the stories that connect us, that make us human, and that have the power to inspire change. In business, as in life, stories matter.”
The Impact of Storytelling on Shavei Israel
The profound impact of storytelling is evident in Freund’s organization, Shavei Israel. The narratives of the individuals they help are not just stories – they become part of the larger narrative of the organization itself, shaping its identity and mission. The tales of heritage rediscovered and identities reclaimed to provide the emotional backbone that drives the organization forward.
At Shavei Israel, these narratives serve to inspire the team, connect with the broader community, and engage supporters worldwide. Through storytelling, the organization has succeeded in creating a sense of shared purpose, building a strong, supportive community that extends far beyond geographical boundaries.
The Future of Storytelling in Organizations
As we look to the future, it’s clear that storytelling will continue to play a vital role in organizations. In an increasingly digital and data-driven world, the need for genuine human connection and understanding is more critical than ever. Stories can bridge this gap, providing a powerful means for leaders to engage, inspire, and motivate their teams.
As Freund illustrates, storytelling is more than a communication tool – it’s a leadership strategy. By harnessing the power of narratives, leaders can unite their teams, cultivate loyalty among customers, and inspire widespread support for their organizations.
In the world of business, as in all areas of life, the stories we tell matter. They shape our identities, guide our actions, and influence our relationships. So, let’s make sure we’re telling stories that inspire, that connect, and that truly make a difference.
About Michael Freund
Author and column writer, Michael Freund contributes a regular segment to the Jerusalem Post, Israel’s largest English-language daily newspaper. He graduated with honors from Princeton University and completed his MBA in Finance at Columbia University. He is a family man who has raised five sons, four of whom served in elite IDF combat units. He is an ordained rabbi reaching the greater Jewish community through Shavei Israel.