Authentic Leadership: Have you had a defining moment?



Last week, as part of our authentic leadership programme, my colleague and I invited the participants to explore their leadership stories.

These are stories that have formed and informed us and make us the leaders that we are. The exploration can be grounding, revealing and empowering.

So what about you?

Is your story something you have given much thought to?

Or perhaps, like many others, you have put your story aside, perhaps seen it as a tad mundane and bearing little significance?

Or perhaps because of a few “bad” experiences, you have been seen these as best ‘forgotten.’

Our Crucibles

Many of us have had defining moments in our lives and these have consciously or unconsciously shaped our beliefs, values and attitudes.

Others have also had the usual ups and downs of life without any super significant markers.

These also define and shape who we are including who we choose to become as people and leaders.

Dr. Ceri Evans, psychiatrist for All Blacks on mental resilience put it like this, “I think a big part of Richie wanting to tell his story is his reaching out because he realises it could be valuable for New Zealanders to learn about the vulnerability of an All Black Captain and that acknowledging some of these things at a practical level allowed him to tak a different approach to things and face things in life and go on and extend himself further.”
– As quoted in Canvas, NZ Herald on 3 September, 2016

Your story invitation

If you haven’t done so already, why not do a timeline of major events in your life, of beginnings and endings, and what you have some emotion about in your life to date.

Then identify a handful of those events you consider significant.

As a result of these experiences, what did you learn and what decisions did you make which have become part of your leadership.

Emotional release

Reflecting on our stories can bring up emotions – some processed, some not.

This is okay too. Be gentle and compassionate with yourself.

Conversely we can also tap into the strengths, wisdom and values that we learnt and sharpened.   These are pillars of our leadership.

Learning conversations

Revisiting our stories can also give us a fresh perspective especially if we share this with a trusted another.

Often the detached but committed listening of another can end up providing a missing or different and more empowering perspective to what we may have been seeing negatively.

This can be tremendously freeing and it can also highlight that there is some inner work to be done.


Ultimately our stories – the ‘good,’ the ‘bad’ and the ‘ugly’ are all ‘grist for the mill’ or good compost – as my mentor used to say, for the leader you choose to become.

Embrace your story and let it ground you whilst also freeing you to unfold your best self yet!

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