What is a Leadership Narrative and Why You Need One

Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.”    ~ Albert Einstein 

We’re having a lovely late Spring here in southern Maine. Temps are in the mid-70s (Fahrenheit); skies are sunny (for the most part); and shrubs, bushes, and flowers are (finally) blooming, giving meaning to the phrase “hope springs eternal.”

The theme for the month of June is clarity. Clarity, as I wrote about last week, is about knowing the value you bring to a team; to an organization. It’s also about determining what you’re good at; what you like to do; what you don’t like doing. Related to this, is how you do what you’re good at. How do you approach the issues and challenges you face?

If you’re looking to advance in your career, it’s critical that you are able to articulate the value you can provide to a prospective employer, a new boss, or a customer or client.

Your Leadership Narrative

The story of the value you bring is your Leadership Narrative. It’s the concise description of your unique value, what you do better than anyone else. It’s your professional brand.

Your Leadership Narrative needs to convey that you’re the solution for a decision-maker. It also needs to convey how you approach the issues and challenges you face and how you arrive at the solutions.

There are four components of a Leadership Narrative:

  1. What I Do: What’s the essence of what you do? What are your strengths? What is it that you do best? Often we’ll use the results from the CliftonStrengths assessment to build this component.
  1. Why I Do It: Some folks may refer to this as your “why” per Simon Sinek.  This is often related to your values, but it’s more than that. It gets to the motivation for what you do.; to your purpose. People that matter (bosses, clients, etc.) want to know your motivation. It’s a way of finding connection. People want to work with folks who share their values.  My response to “why I do it” is in my LinkedIn profile:

I went into my first career — public service — to change the world; to make it a better place by working on big issues: economic development, workforce training, regional collaboration. Years later, I was addressing the same issues as when I started. Now as a coach, I change the world, one person at a time, by helping them recognize and act on their professional value — their Leadership Narrative.

  1.  Who I Do It For: Who’s your audience — the clients and customers (internal and external) — that benefits from your work? 
  1. How I Do It: What are the skills, strengths, and techniques do you use in your work? How do they contribute to building value? How do you employ them in your work?

Why You Need A Leadership Narrative

What’s typically the first question asked in a job interview? In case you’ve forgotten or haven’t interviewed in a while, it’s “tell me about yourself.” While not technically a question, it’s usually what an interviewer opens with. 

Being able to respond clearly, concisely, and crisply — not canned — you’re able to demonstrate some self-awareness, which is a critical component of emotional intelligence. 

It shows that you know who you are and what value you have to offer. Framing that value as a leadership narrative is a good way to clearly deliver your professional brand.

And You?

So, as always, it’s about you. How do you respond to the four components of the leadership narrative? 

Send me an email and let me know. I’m really intrigued by what you come up with.

By the way, if you’re interested in my leadership narrative, take a look at my LinkedIn profile.   

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If you’re struggling with how to achieve your career goals let’s chat about how I can help. You can use this link to my calendar to schedule the best time to talk.

Image copyright: rastudio