Expert advice on Business Leadership and tips on becoming a more effective Leader.

Are Leaders Born or Are They Made? By Gregg Gregory

When do we learn our leadership lessons anyway?

As Kurt Russell said in the movie “Miracle” — “You think you can win on talent alone… Gentlemen you don’t have enough talent to win on talent alone.” Of course he was referring to the 1980 US Olympic hockey team after a dismal showing against the Norwegian national team. The same is true about leaders today. “Talent alone is not enough.”

Of course you need to take training sessions on how to be a better leader and for that matter everyone should be taking courses on how to be a better follower as well. It goes beyond just the theoretical and what can be taught in a classroom. Many have heard the old expression—who you know may get you in the door and the job, how well you do will keep you there. There is something to that expression.

We need to continue our education from the classroom level and of course we always learn from OJT (on the job training). Ask yourself these questions – how many industry specific training days have I taken in the last 12 months?

How many non-industry specific training days have I taken in the last 12 months? Top leaders take between four and eight in each arena every 12 months.

What about all of the other ways we learn? Is it possible that we learn and do not even recognize that we have learned something until years later? Absolutely!

We all have lessons we learned in so many different ways. We refer to these as defining moments in our life. Our life can be our personal or professional life and the more we have our eyes open to what we can learn the more we learn and when we add this to our formal talent training we get great leaders.

It is possible that we had a defining moment in our personal life that can help define us in our professional environment and of course that also works the other way around. A defining moment at work can impact our personal life the next day, the next month or maybe not for years to come.

Regardless we learn from the defining moments of our lives. In many cases these are the really hard lessons we learned.

To identify your top defining moments in your life (both personal and professional) navigate these six simple steps:

1. Write down the top 10 lessons you have learned in your work life.

2. Think back over each of those lessons and determine your earliest recollection about this lesson. Remember just because it is a work life lesson does not mean you did not have a pre-work life understanding of this lesson and brought it into your work life.

3. Write down the top 10 lessons you have learned in your personal life.

4. Go back and write down your earliest recollection about this lesson.

5. Set the above aside and next write down the names of the top 10 people who have had a positive influence in your whole life.

6. Go back to your lessons and write down those lessons that have immediate implication in both your personal and professional segments of your life.

You now have your top defining moments in your life. Now go back to those moments and see what other lessons may be hiding in there that you have yet to uncover.

This entire exercise does require a significant amount of reflecting on your part — do not attempt to do this exercise in less than an hour — I also suggest you do not do this at your office. In many cases people have taken a long weekend to uncover their defining moments.

Now here’s an added bonus – look to see who among your influencers influenced you the most. Here comes the hard part. In many cases this person or persons will be someone you are still close to today and maybe even a family member.

When was the last time you thanked them for what they have done for you? Your assignment – call or go see this these influencers of your life within 72 hours of completing this exercise.

Assuming they are outside of your immediate family and they have passed away then think, do I know any of their immediate family members? If you do, then call or go see them.

You will possibly set a defining moment in their life. How awesome would that be – bringing it all full circle. That is what great leaders do.
Gregg Gregory helps organizations design cooperative teams that produce results and perform at peak levels. Through his interactive workshops and consulting, Gregg’s clients achieve greater team focus, cooperation, productivity, and impact. You can visit Gregg at

-What was a defining moment in your professional life? Can you share a key leadership lesson that’s made a difference in your life?

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