The Secret to 10x Your Impact as a Product Leader: Storytelling

This month, the CPO Series had the pleasure of featuring Connie Kwan, where she shared the secret sauce for amplifying your impact as a product manager: storytelling.

Connie, a seasoned CPO with a background in computer engineering, has launched 30 products and mastered the art of telling a great story. She believes that while technical skills are crucial, the power to tell compelling stories is what truly drives success in product management.

Why Storytelling Matters

Connie highlighted the science behind storytelling, explaining how it connects our brains. She shared a study from Princeton neuroscience professor Uri Hasson, which demonstrated that storytelling activates mirror neurons, and allows listeners to experience the story as if they were part of it. This neural coupling creates a shared understanding and emotional connection between the storyteller and the audience.

Imagine watching a boxing match and reacting as if you were the one being hit. This reaction is due to mirror neurons, which make us empathize with others’ experiences. In the same way, a well-told story can make stakeholders feel the impact and urgency of a project, leading to better understanding and buy-in.

Unlocking the 4S System

The 4S system is a framework designed by Connie to help product leaders tailor their storytelling approach to different audiences. This system breaks down into four distinct storyteller types:

  • The Champion: Driven by passion, like Tony Robbins, this storyteller uses energy and enthusiasm to rally the audience.
  • The Sage: Embodying authenticity, similar to Oprah Winfrey, this storyteller creates a personal and intimate connection.
  • The Visionary: Inspiring with big ideas, akin to Steve Jobs, this storyteller captivates with bold visions.
  • The Professor: Leading with knowledge, much like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, this storyteller earns respect through expertise and detailed insights.

Real World Applications

To bring these concepts to life, Connie showed how different storytelling styles can be used in various scenarios. For instance, when pitching to a detail-oriented stakeholder (The Professor), Connie emphasized the importance of presenting logical, data-driven arguments. On the other hand, when engaging with a visionary leader, she focused on painting an inspiring picture of the future.

The Dragonboat Outcome module can help you tell a visual story to convince even the data-oriented “Professor” stakeholder

Connie’s examples showcased how tailoring your storytelling approach can effectively communicate complex ideas, inspire and motivate teams, and gain crucial stakeholder support.

Every story needs a source of truth

When you are crafting your pitch as a product leader, Dragonboat brings the indispensable source of truth to help you appeal to the detail-oriented professor, the champion focused on the big picture, or any other type of storyteller.

Take the first step

Connie encouraged all product leaders to identify their own storytelling style and practice adapting their messages to different audience types. She recommends starting with the 4S Quiz to help teams discover their storytelling personas and improve their communication strategies.

Ready to accelerate product outcomes?

Alisa Vaz

With over a decade in global product teams across Canada, China, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, and the USA, Alisa is a seasoned Product Manager with a passion for crafting tools to elevate product organizations. As a Senior Product Manager at Dragonboat, she is committed to empowering product leaders to drive business results.
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