Five Drivers Of A Powerful Leadership Story

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:


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.


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?


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.


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?


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?




8 thoughts on “Five Drivers Of A Powerful Leadership Story

  1. I love when people share their stories with me because it gives me insight not only into what they did (or do) but who they are, what they value and their willingness to fully show up imperfections and all. Great insights here. Will share!


  2. LOVE this statement: “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.” Stories allow leaders and team members to learn in a way that makes sense to us! Great article…have an awesome week Terri!

  3. You make such an important point about storytelling. Stories allow people to see who we are and what might be some of the imperfect decisions or choices we made along the way. Sometimes I may be reluctant to share a vulnerability but through a story it helps reveal all my sides and creates a more authentic leader. And that is who you are too Alli!

    Thanks so much Alli!

  4. Stories are powerful as they illustrate all of our sides- the good, the bad and the ugly. Yet storytelling does it in a more meaningful way than just sharing the sequence of events. When leaders weave their lessons through a story and rather than just telling others about their challenges, teams will connect in a more meaningful way.

    Thanks LaRae!

  5. I love hearing stories –

    There are some that my mother has told for years that never get old.

    Others cause me to remember a message for decades after I heard a speaker.

    And then there are those that are told by people who look or think differently than I do – Their stories have intense power to create understanding, build friendships and solve big problems.

    Great post Terri!

  6. I love how you describe all your different kinds of stories! It’s fascinating how some of the stories you heard have stayed with you for long periods of time. It proves that while an experience or informations shared may not be remembered, a story lives on in our hearts and minds.

    Thanks so much Chery!

  7. I fully agree with your assertion that stories are powerful and story telling as a leadership skill is a powerful differentiator; the better a leader is at telling stories, the more influential they seem to be. However, I’m not sure it is the structure or formula that makes their story powerful – great leaders seem to have a knack for having interesting things happen to them!

  8. The way a story is constructed can impact how it is received by others. When our stories have an element of fascination and an important lesson we learned, they become more relatable. I agree that great leaders have interesting things happen to them.

    Thanks Narayan for adding to the conversation!

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