The Key to Successful Leadership Storytelling

Maggie Sun
2 min readApr 24, 2023

Leadership can take different forms in different contexts, and leaders can be formal managers with authoritative power or informal influencers without management titles.

No matter what type of leader you are, you want to have people listen to you attentively (not perfunctorily) and take actions following your words willingly (not reluctantly). One of the most effective ways to achieve that is through successful storytelling. Why? It’s explained by neuroscience that our brains may produce “stress hormone” cortisol or “love hormone” oxytocin when we hear stories, both helping us focus our attention; consequently, information delivered in a story can not only be up to 20 times more memorable, but also lead to action.

So, what makes a great story? A checklist of the key points is provided hereunder.

Story design

· Purpose: What’s the point of the story? To inspire, motivate, challenge, trigger action, or persuade…?

· Know the audience: Who are they? What are their expectations? Imagine how they would react to the story.

· Narrative arc: Develop a plot with a challenge, suspense, climax, resolution, and solution.

· Facts + Emotions: Mix facts and numbers with feelings and perceptions.



Maggie Sun

MBA, certified agile coach and experienced strategy analyst, specializing in business agility, agile leadership, Beyond Budgeting, and general management.