Stories are important to leadership coach Paul Heagen.

“Everybody has a story,” says the founder and president of Defining Moments Consulting in Hyde Park. “All the events, people and experiences that shaped us have a profound impact on our triggers and our beliefs. I think when we can understand our story, it helps us understand ourselves and connect better with other people.”

For nearly two decades, Heagen has helped executives understand their own story and be better leaders at leading companies in the Greater Cincinnati area.

“Most people come to me at some kind of defining moment: A change in their careers, or something happened in the business, or they are facing a succession issue,” says Heagen. About a third of his clients are women.

Heagen’s own story is that after working as an editor in all-news radio in Los Angeles and crisis communications, he found himself being a trusted sounding board for C-suite executives.

“I handled very difficult communications issues,” he says. “Everything from the factory blew up, to the CFO ran off to the SEC is at our door, to product recalls.”

Often, he says, what people thought was a communications issue was really a leadership issue. “There was a reason those things happened,’” he says.

Heagen describes three phases in each of his coaching engagements, what he calls the three “As.”

Awareness comes first. “The first step in any learning is awareness,” he says. “What do I know about myself and how do I perceive myself and how do others perceive me? It’s really important and it’s often the hardest part.”

Next is aptitude. “What skills do I need? What capabilities should I be developing in decision-making, strategy and vision,” he says. “If this is who I am, then how do I live that out and what skills do I have to have?”

The third element is attitude, or sense of purpose.

“People don’t work for a strategic plan. They work for people that they trust and respect. Often trust and respect are the products of somebody’s qualities. If I can get people to realize what those qualities really are, develop those qualities and portray them in a humble and authentic way, it transforms leadership.”

Heagen has written several books including a recently released personal novel called An Intersection of Strangers, he co-authored a book called The Leader’s Climb and he’s planning a new book called The Story-Driven Leader about developing a personal script for successful leadership.

Heagen says one big misconception is that leadership is all about efficiency.

“We’re in a world today where you’re judged by how fast you can make decisions, but there’s a cost to that. Trust is built over time. Loyalty is built over time. Some decisions are better when you give them some time,” he says.

“I believe our world is desperate for leadership. People have to realize it’s who you are, not just something you do. That is what lasts and has an impact on people.”

Learn more at, or contact Heagen at or 513-260-8330.