Character Motivation Entry: Being a Leader of Others

What does your character want? This is an important question to answer because it determines what your protagonist hopes to achieve by the story’s end. If the goal, or outer motivation, is written well, readers will identify fairly quickly what the overall story goal’s going to be and they’ll know what to root for. But how do you know what outer motivation to choose?

If you read enough books, you’ll see the same goals being used for different characters in new scenarios. Through this thesaurus, we’d like to explore these common outer motivations so you can see your options and what those goals might look like on a deeper level.

We hope the sample list of ideas below helps you better understand how your character’s motivation drives the story. For a much more detailed entry, follow this link to the official Character Motivation Thesaurus.

Character’s Goal (Outer Motivation): Being a leader of others

Forms This Might Take:

  • Becoming a mayor, senator, premier, president, or prime minister
  • Leading the charge for a social initiative, group, or organization
  • Taking the lead position of a non-profit organization
  • Being a CEO
  • Leading a minimized group to promote equity and awareness

Human Need Driving the Goal (Inner Motivation):  self-actualization

How the Character May Prepare for This Goal

  • Obtaining a mentor
  • Rallying support to run for office or vouch for one’s strengths (if needed)
  • Owning one’s mistakes and learning from them
  • Understanding that collaboration and showing respect are important aspects of governance or leadership at any level

Possible Sacrifices or Costs Associated With This Goal

  • Being overworked and over-stressed
  • Being held accountable when things go wrong
  • A poor work and home life balance
  • Having little to no time for hobbies and interests

Roadblocks Which Could Prevent This Goal from Being Achieved

  • Skeletons coming out of the closet and damaging one’s reputation (an affair, taking a bribe, a video that casts one in an unfavorable light, etc.)
  • An addiction that causes one to be unreliable and irritable
  • Competition from someone who is equally as suited for the position
  • A lack of skills or experience in a critical area

Talents & Skills That Will Help the Character Achieve This Goal:

Possible Fallout For the Protagonist if This Goal Is Not Met:

  • The disappointment of losing and letting one’s supporters down
  • Being unable to affect change at the leadership level

Clichés to Avoid: 

  • The power-motivated candidate for leadership who is completely unsuited for the position yet somehow ends up in the running

Click here to return to the list of sample entries for this thesaurus, along with a master post containing information on the individual fields.

Image: Klimkin @ Pixabay

What does your character want more than anything else and what is he willing to do to achieve it? 

On the surface, the protagonist’s goal seems to be the most important, but the inner motivation driving your character toward this goal, despite pain, suffering, fear, setbacks, and sacrifice is what really draws readers in.

Understanding the four cornerstones of character arc and how they frame a story is paramount for today’s writers. To help with this, we have integrated our popular Character Motivation Thesaurus into our online library at One Stop For Writers.

Each entry has been enhanced to provide even more information about your character’s motivation, and is cross-referenced with our other thesauruses for easy searchability. We’ve also included a must-see tutorial on Character Motivation. Interested in seeing a few of these expanded character motivation entries?  Head on over and take advantage of our FREE TRIAL!







Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, an online library packed with powerful tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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[…] My character finds herself thrust into this role without being ready or knowing how to do so. […]

3 years ago

Why should we avoid the first two cliché since they have happened in real life and that art/literature imitates life? Eventually authors and artist will replicate and exaggerate what has happened.

3 years ago

Yet another fanTABulous entry, Angela 🙂 Thank you!

And you know, some images speak volumes. I’m a big chess fan and this image was an immediate draw for me 🙂 But what I like most is that this depicts the dispensable (yet often very powerful) pawn as king 😀

Traci Kenworth
3 years ago

My character finds herself thrust into this role without being ready or knowing how to do so.