Tell Me a Leadership Story

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Tell me a leadership story — one that embodies the very core of the organization. There may be spread sheets and profit margins. But, stories of leadership seem to complete the painted portrait of an organization (including its people, products and customers). Organizations possess a rich history — and leaders play a pivotal role in that developing story. I want to hear more about that.

Leaders can provide a compass for growth, align vision with talent, and have the power to exert a tremendous positive or negative influence upon an organization. A leader can catapult an organization to the forefront of an industry or bring it to an early demise. Just as great presidents have helped shape our country — leaders help define an organization, for better or worse. Tell me a leadership story — especially those of the leaders that have failed. I can learn  from that.

Leaders that takes the helm of an organization at a given point in time, can reveal volumes about the state of that organization and where it might be headed. Each phase of an organization’s development required a very different type of leader — and that’s a lesson in itself. Tell me about that.

We can learn from both leadership successes and failures. But often this history is quickly forgotten or ignored — and that leaves us vulnerable to make the same mistakes.  Moving forward often requires a nod to the past to reflect on our plan of action. History can help us correct our course — but we rarely look back.

Employees benefit by becoming knowledgeable about the challenges that affected previous leaders. The fallout left in the wake of blunders — the triumphs of perseverance and grit.  As we can learn from our own personal mistakes , an organization can also learn from the mistakes of its leaders.

Telling the tale of an organization’s leaders can serve as a powerful learning tool — one which can leave a lasting impression on an employee.

  • Onboard history. Speak of the leaders who were present in the early phases of the organization’s life cycle. Explain their vision and how it shaped the organization.
  • Failure 101. Reflect on leadership failures and what was learned in the process. How did these failures change the course of the organization?
  • Who is at he helm? Introduce current leaders and the expertise they bring to the organization. Explain how their current vision has been translated into strategy and action.
  • Strategy review. Discuss key inflection points that influenced the organization. How did leadership impact the outcomes? What did we learn, going forward?

With a look to the past,  we can improve the future  and possibly avoid costly mistakes that have already been made. Take the time to discuss the rich history of leadership in your place of business and offer your employees the advantage of perspective.

Tell the story of your organization. It’s a tale that needs to be told.


Dr. Marla Gottschalk is a Workplace Psychologist. You can find her on Twitter and Linkedin.

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3 thoughts on “Tell Me a Leadership Story

  1. Dr. Gottschalk,

    This is so true, and something I feel is often overlooked when preparing for a job interview or when trying to establish value within a company. Thanks for your article! Will share with job seekers, employees, recruiters, hr and managers.

  2. Nina,

    That is an excellent point! It is very wise for an applicant to know the history of leadership as well. It might offer them a great way to prove commitment to a future employer. Thanks so much for reading and offering your keen insight.

  3. Pingback: 5 Characteristics of a Cutthroat Culture | workplace MOJO

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