How to Behave Authentically as a Leader

Learn the difference between your honest and your authentic self, improve your leadership style and inspire the best in others 


What is authenticity? Who has it? And why is it such a desirable quality in leadership 


Authenticity is the secret sauce to influencing others.  


Often associated with being true to oneself, authenticity is actually less about honest self-expression and more about presenting the best version of yourself in relation to others.  


To illustrate the difference between your honest and your authentic self, let’s run a typical work scenario – One of your peers rudely interrupts you with a dumb comment during an important meeting. How would you respond and regain control?  


How Not To Be Authentic - Rude Response


You’ve expressed your irritation and shot down the commenter with a quick burn. This is you at your most honest. But is it really the best way to respond? By snapping back, you signal threat and aggression. You’re also warning the rest of the team to keep their mouths shut if they know what’s good for them. 


How Not to be Authentic - Polite but Fake Response


This is worse than rude honesty. You are not doing yourself and your team any favors by tolerating or ignoring rude behavior.  


Authentic Response

Ask questions calmly and listen for the answers.


Confronting and challenging rude interrupters to a dialogue lets you speak your mind without sounding aggressive. It appeals to your better nature and teaches others, by example, to be respectful and thoughtful with their speech.  


It is important to realise that authenticity is a social skill.

In leadership, authenticity equates 
with being self-aware in social situations in order to effect positive interactions. To sum it up, a person is regarded as authentic in the truthful expression of their character while cultivating healthy relationships.  


Sign up for the Authentic Leadership Summit to discover your authentic self and become the leader that inspires teams to perform at their very best. 


Authentic Leadership Summit 2020 - March 17 to 20



3 Ways Authentic Leaders Win the Talent Game

Authentic leaders enjoy a reputation for being effective people managers – able to engage a fiercely loyal and talented team to drive exceptional results


In today’s talent-driven economy, where there are fewer skilled talents than jobs, candidates are looking for intangibles like “real” leadership aside from top-of-market salaries and benefits.  


What does it take to be a “real” leader and why does it matter in hiring and retaining talent? 


“Real” or authentic leadership demands sincerity, genuine support and integrity. Top candidates are looking for these attributes in their would-be bosses – leaders whom they believe will value them and invest in their future success.  


3 Ways Authentic Leaders Win the Talent Game 


1. They attract and retain the right people 

Many leaders underestimate the cost of employee turnover. If things don’t work out, they immediately fire and hire another. 

Consider this  – each lost employee can conservatively cost a company 33% on average of the employee’s base pay.  To put it another way, for every three people who leave the company for the same expense, would cost an additional full-time employee. (Source: Work Institute 2018 Retention Report)

Authentic leaders understand that every team member brings something special to the organisation and aren’t merely a set of skills with a price tag. They make sure to engage each employee for the long term by developing and realising potential.


2. They understand human motivation 

Today’s workforce is motivated by meaning and connection – what can they can get out of working for your organisation beyond salaries and benefits? Any company can offer that. What makes you any different?   

Authentic leaders nurture talent by creating a culture of belonging and recognition.  They spark their employees’ ambitions and match them with opportunities in the organisation.


3. They inspire people to become powerful advocates for the company 

According to a study by the Edelman Trust Barometer, an employee advocating for the company is twice more likely to be trusted than the CEO. Additionally, 70% of respondents trust the personal posts of co-workers, friends and family compared to only 15% who trust the posted messages from the official company account. 

Imagine the power of a story – an employee sharing an uplifting and inspiring work experience. Authentic leaders ignite a passion within the employee to amplify the message on behalf of the company. 


Sign up for the Authentic Leadership Summit 2020 to attract and retain top talent by leading with purpose, meaning and passion. 


Authentic Leadership Summit 2020 - March 17 to 20

The 5-Step Process to Defining Authentic Leadership

5 Step Process to Defining Authentic Leadership

Learn the Process to Defining and Understanding your Potential for Becoming an Authentic Leader and Inspire Meaningful Success 


We first heard the term “authentic leadership” as a management concept back in 2003 when author Bill George challenged corporate America to lead authentically in his book – Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value. 

He pointed out that “authentic leaders of mission-driven companies will create far greater shareholder value than financially oriented companies.” It was in the wake of the 2001 Enron corporate scandal and the world was generally distrustful of big business. 

The book was an urgent call for a new kind of leader – the authentic business leader. 


Defining the Authentic Leader 

Over the years, readers of the book, notably c-suite executives, have acknowledged the need for authentic leaders and wanted to become one themselves. 

So, what does it take to become an authentic leader? 

An authentic leader must stake personal integrity and responsibility in the pursuit of meaningful and lasting success. 

According to Bill George, authentic leaders are driven by a moral and ethical purpose and never lose sight of their core values and principles. They lead with their hearts, cultivate long-term relationships and demonstrate excellence through self-discipline. 

To further illustrate the elements that define authentic leadership, let’s contrast them with traditional leadership traits. 


Traditional vs Authentic Leadership


You do not have to be naturally gifted with leadership traits, or be at the top of your organisation to become an authentic leader. You do not have to ask for permission or wait to be discovered. You only need to be responsible for your self-improvement.  

Authentic leadership demands that you aim to be a force for good by learning to be your best self. To be an authentic leader then is an attainable ideal – everyone has the potential to become one by committing to “learn-by-doing” 

Begin to carve your path to leading authentically by reflecting on these questions –  


Infographic - The 5 Step Process to Defining Authentic Leadership


Australia’s most trusted leaders are coming together for the Authentic Leadership Summit in Sydney on March 26. Join them and learn how you can discover your ‘why’ – your true purpose and values as a leader. Reserve your spot today. 


Authentic Leadership Summit 2020 - March 17 to 20


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Finding your purpose and how to nail it

A new decade brings reflection and new optimism for living authentically, making a real difference in this world, and discovering real purpose.

There’s something special about a new year (and especially a new decade) that inspires people to take action – all in the name of purpose, and I’m all for it, provided there is a solid action plan to make it happen and it’s sustainable, not a momentary burst of enthusiasm.

What many people don’t know is that your purpose is fundamentally linked with values – you can’t truly know your purpose unless you define your values. By knowing your values, you’ll know what makes you truly excited and fulfilled at the end of the day. It makes you prioritise what is ‘important’, rather than just what is ‘urgent’.

Your purpose may be as simple as living and belonging with people who share those values, or it could be driving those values into others or the world.

You may have varying levels of a whole bunch of values, but what are your top values? Think about it, what values drive you to be the best version of yourself and the best leader for your business? What values do you try to instil in your children, or your team? What values make you jump out of bed in the morning, ready to kick goals and take on a new challenge?

This is about you as a human being and what matters most to you. Don’t get me wrong, the process to work out your values does take some time and may not happen overnight, it’s not easy! But don’t worry, it’s totally worth it. Once you know your values, everything will make more sense, and you’ll be able to nail your purpose!

So how do you define your values? Over the years, I have created some really great exercises to define your values:

  • Get a list of value driven words (there are plenty if you Google!) and circle the ones that you think define you
  • Think about a great experience where your actions were great, and it made you really proud – why did it make you proud?
  • Next, think of an experience where the situation was terrible and you or the other person acted poorly – what would you have liked them to do, or what could you have done better?
  • Think about those two situations in relation to the list. If they’re important enough for you, the words that define what matters to you most should be clearer. Trust me, it’s hard to define to two, but try it!

If you already know what you’re about and can put those values into the context of what you do and how you do it, every action should be held against those values. Does this fit into what I value and believe, and is my action living up to that? It makes difficult choices easier, and it takes away that malalignment with things that make you feel uneasy.

On the flip side, if your job does not align with these values – get another one. I have worked in an organisation that went against my values, but it paid handsomely, and it is my life’s biggest regret.

If you’re looking to discover your ‘why’ – your true purpose and values as a leader, join us for the upcoming Authentic Leadership Summit in Sydney from the 17-20 March 2020. Back for its 5th year, keynote speakers include, Ita Buttrose, Larry Marshall, Tim Kelsey and Mike Baird to name a few. Early bird pricing is available only until the 14th February 2020 – book now.

Bad management and how to stop it

Stopping bad management ruining businesses and stagnating people’s careers is something that I’m really passionate about. When it comes to bad management, it isn’t just about intimidation or belittling, deliberately setting unachievable targets or projecting the stereotypical “horrible bosses” behaviour. It can be as simple as leaving staff wondering what their goals are, resulting in them not being able to achieve them, or a dereliction of duty because it’s too hard or too confronting.

In 2020, I’m challenging CEOs, CFOs, CMOs and everything in between, no matter what the size of the business or organisation, to stop bad management and to have the tough conversations that turn managers into leaders.

I’ve worked in small, medium and large organisations in the education sector and have been fortunate enough to meet hundreds of managers from some of the largest organisations in the country to start-up business owners trying to find their way. Some of the key things I have learnt along the way include:

  • Communication is key – people have to know what to expect and how they are to deliver on those expectations
  • It’s recognition – staff should know when they have done a good job and have shown the right commitment
  • It’s providing an environment of psychological safety, of allowing people to ask the hard questions and not being afraid of addressing concerns
  • It’s leading by example and modelling the behaviour you want others to emulate and being brave enough to call out behaviour that is not OK
  • It’s making values and standards clear and visible and recognising behaviour the exemplifies those values and standards because allowing poor behaviour to continue says clearly to other staff that that behaviour is OK, but it also says to them you don’t care enough about them or the company to stop it

So, my question to you is – how will you change your management style in 2020?

If you’re looking for ways to enhance your management style, join us for the upcoming Authentic Leadership Summit being held in Sydney from the 17-20 March 2020. Back for its 5th year, keynote speakers include, Ita Buttrose, Larry Marshall, Tim Kelsey and Mike Baird to name a few. Early bird pricing is available in until the 14th February 2020 – book here.

The Leadership Qualities That Matter

The Leadership Qualities That Matter

Our conversations with the country’s top CEOs and MDs suggest essential leadership traits for organisational success 

In the months leading up to our Executive Leadership Summit, we asked our speakers “what are the essential qualities that leaders should possess?”

Their answers ranged from characteristics and traits that they already have in their tool kit to qualities that they aim to cultivate in themselves and others within their teams.

A total of 20 speakers participated in the interview – all front-line CEOs and MDs from businesses of all shapes and sizes.

In summarising their responses, a list comprising of 10 leadership qualities were identified. The top 3 on the list suggest that these are essential to organisational success regardless of their size or industry.


The executives who participated in the interview have identified ‘communication’ as the most critical skill to have in your leadership tool kit. They emphasised the ability to articulate the company’s goals and vision, educate and inform as foundations to developing healthy relationships. They also underlined ‘active listening’ as the key component to communicating powerfully.

Other abilities related to communication were mentioned including – inspiring and motivating others, collaborating and promoting teamwork.


Closely tied at the top of the list is ‘authenticity’ which the participating executives defined as “leading in a manner that is true to oneself.” Authenticity has also been identified as critical to leadership success in terms of honest and transparent engagement with employees, partners and customers. Integrity, social and ethical responsibility were also mentioned as related characteristics to leading with authenticity.


Finally, our participants rank “courage” on the 3rd spot as a defining quality of good leadership, adding “the ability to confront risk and uncertainty is a quality that distinguishes great leaders from competent managers.” The ability for bold and decisive action, going against the norm, starting revolutionary change to inspire and energise the team are some of the qualities mentioned that define courageous leadership.

The Bottom-line

Different business situations demand different leadership styles. However, the interview responses of this small group of leaders all seem to point to common leadership qualities that remain relevant and essential in today’s business.

So, what’s the takeaway message in this? While this was a small, informal study, what we can take away is the need to focus on these core qualities when developing future business leaders.

Learn the leadership skills and qualities that drive performance of the country’s top executives. Sign up for The Authentic Leadership Summit 2020. 

Authentic Leadership Summit 2020 - March 17 to 20