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Leadership Communication #21: Build and Practice the 5 Most Important Stories

Updated: Jun 4

Effective communication in leadership hinges on storytelling. Stories serve two primary functions: they prove and move.


They prove your expertise and move your audience to action. Data alone is insufficient for motivation; data integrated into a compelling narrative is transformative. This article outlines the five essential stories every leader should master to enhance their influence and communication.

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Here they are:


1. Your Story

Your origin story shapes your identity as a leader, reflecting your values and expertise.


  1. Content:

  • Background influences (e.g., family, mentors)

  • Key experiences that molded your professional path

  • Achievements that highlight your competencies

  1. Example: A leader whose parents were an actuary and a litigator, learning the balance of logical argument and emotional persuasion.

  2. Action: Reflect on and document your significant life and career events that define your leadership style.


2: The Company Story

Help others understand the evolution of the business. Articulate your company’s history to establish greater leadership credibility.


  1. Content:

  • Company’s founding and evolution

  • Key milestones and values

  • Major achievements and challenges

  1. Example: The story of Walter P. Chrysler's passion for locomotives leading to the founding of Chrysler.

  2. Action: Research and internalize your company’s history, ensuring you can recount it effectively.


3: The Industry Story

Demonstrate your expansive viewpoint and strategic understanding of industry trends.


  1. Content:

  • Key trends and external factors impacting the industry

  • Notable success stories within or outside the industry

  • Analysis of good and bad news affecting the industry

  1. Example: A logistics company analyzing geopolitical landscapes, inflation, and labor rules to forecast industry impacts.

  2. Action: Develop a deep understanding of your industry’s landscape and articulate its implications.


4: The Success Story

Showcase your capabilities through tangible results, reinforcing your credibility.


  1. Content:

  • Specific challenges faced

  • Actions taken to address the challenges

  • Positive outcomes and learnings

  1. Example: Turning an IT breach into a success story by detailing the improvements made and enhanced security achieved.

  2. Action: Document your significant achievements and frame them as compelling success stories.


5: The Picture of the Future Story

Articulate a visionary outlook, demonstrating your strategic foresight.


  1. Content:

  • Bold, aspirational vision for the future

  • Steps and strategies to achieve this vision

  • Potential impacts and benefits

  1. Example: Speculative future state of a company, highlighting ambitious growth and innovation goals.

  2. Action: Envision and outline a compelling future state for your organization, emphasizing your strategic insights.


Mastering these five stories—your story, the company story, the industry story, the success story, and the picture of the future story—enhances your leadership communication. Start journaling and refining these narratives today. Don't leave the up for chance. For further guidance on storytelling, consider seeking group training or private coaching to excel in this critical skill.


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