'What’s your leadership story?'

You have one. You just need to find it.

Charlie Perkins.png
Charlie Perkins.

What’s your story? You do have one. And as a leader, you’re sharing it with people who work with you, even if it’s not the one you’d like to connect with.

Whether you understand it or not, you tell a story as a leader daily. What should that story be, and how are others feeling about it?

Sometimes, a leader might declare an open-door strategy, which means anyone can walk into their office to talk at any time. However, suppose the reality is that the person making that agreement is very busy and is never open to such a conversation, even with good reason. In that case, it doesn’t matter how much they play up their approachability. As others see it, the story is that the leader is fenced off.

What’s the difference between the intent and what others are facing? The more on-demand we are, the less aware we are that there may be discrepancies.

Bosses tell a story through what they say and do and—just as important—through what they don’t say and don’t do. The former carries as much emphasis because we’re letting people know that the things we overlook are not cherished.


We send a message through the questions we ask and those we don’t have trouble addressing. The ones we don’t address are unimportant, and we suggest that we don’t want or need to know more about them.

So how does one gain knowledge of the story they’re revealing and remain alert to the risk of sending unintended messages? First, they must begin with a lot of self-reflection about what message they plan to convey. What are my essential values and beliefs? How do I want to be known?

Then, as leaders, we must think about our daily words and actions that convey a message, comment, or inconsistent activity.

About Charlie Perkins

Charlie Perkins is an author, musician, photographer, and videographer based in Rochester. The Chicago-bred Perkins attended Northwestern University concentrating on Radio, TV Broadcasting, and Interpersonal Communications. He spent 29 years at Harris Bank in Chicago and taught “Principles of Corporate Television” Columbia College in the same city. He has also spent 17 years as Unit Manager, Media Support Services for the Mayo Clinic. In a previous life, he covered the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan’s championship run, ’96-‘98 as a freelance photographer.

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