This week I had the opportunity to speak with an extraordinary young leader who shared their passionate journey of how they arrived at their current job and career. The leader began their education and first job in a very artsy industry but ended up in a start-up. There were also a few crazy sales jobs in between that helped them to develop marketing skills that eventually led them to their present dynamic position. The trials and challenges brought us laughter and connection. Some of the leader’s choices worked out better than others, but in each situation, the individual was always willing to grow and try new things.
The most intriguing part of the time spent together was listening to the young leader’s story. I was so focused and engaged in hearing how their professional story came together. Every twist and turn evoked a different emotion inside of them and inside of me. I was hooked and formed a relationship that hopefully will continue to grow.
Why is storytelling so powerful? Stories draw us in and bring out our emotions. They help paint a more colorful picture of an event or situation and make it come to life.
Here are five drivers of a powerful leadership story:
1. DECIDE ON THE STORYLINE
The first step in storytelling is choosing events that best capture what you want to share as well as showcase who you are. It is always best to use a challenge that many different people can relate to. Most importantly make sure it is a true story because people can smell a fake.
2. REVEAL THE DETAILS
It is through the description of what actually happened in the story that people get hooked. Some of questions you may want to answer with your details are:
- Who was involved with you in the event?
- How did it look?
- What were the challenges you faced?
- Where did it take place?
3. USE EMOTION IN THE MOMENT OF TRUTH
In developing our stories, it is impactful to have a build-up to a moment of truth. That is the pivotal circumstance that jolted us in a particular direction. Describing our emotions at that peak moment is essential. Were you feeling anxious? Did your fears try to trip you up? Did you ask yourself, “What do I have to lose in going down this way?” The goal is to captivate your audience so they will want to be in the story with you.
4. EXPLAIN THE WHYS
During your storytelling express why you made certain choices and how you came to certain conclusions. It can be so powerful to share your vulnerable side too. The “whys” of your journey can help others see themselves in your challenges and how you overcame certain obstacles. Those stories may be just what someone needs to get over their hurdles.
- Why did you choose one direction over another?
- Why did you involve a mentor in your decision?
- Why did you ignore the advice from a colleague or friend?
5. SHARE THE DISCOVERY WITH A LESSON
At the end of the road we all have lessons we learn and that pulls our stories all together. So be clear in what you gained through the decisions you made and how they helped you with future challenges. Powerful stories create deeper connections and stronger leaders.
How do you create powerful leadership stories? What has worked for you?