5 ways to be an authentic leader

In 2020, authentic leadership is more important than ever before – people can smell bullsh*t a mile away and they’re adverse to it.

Employees and customers are gravitating towards companies and leaders with a clear sense of purpose and direction. So it’s time to stop whatever it is you’re doing right now! We’re going to explain exactly why you need to pay attention to authenticity for the future success of your business, and how you can be an authentic leader.

The concept of authentic leadership has huge benefits for business – it boosts organisational performance by 40%, improves reputation and social license and secures the long-term viability of your enterprise. Everyone wants all of this, right? Well, there’s more…

Employees are happier, more comfortable, and more productive when they feel like they know their leaders, and that their leaders have the best interests of all of their stakeholders at heart.

True authentic leadership is when leaders act as their true selves at work and they have a shared purpose with their organisation and its people. Authentic leaders allow themselves to connect with their employees and have the long-term goals of their organisation as a guiding principle.

‘Fake it until you make it’ works because you employ it for a short time, but at some point, you need to genuinely be who you are.

My top 5 ways to be an authentic leader in your business:

    • Know your strengths – If you know what you’re good at, you can work to hone them to be better at what comes naturally to you. For your weaknesses, you can strive to improve them and have someone back you up on that. For example, if you’re not a great negotiator, you can bring a team member who is great to your negotiation sessions, while working on your own skills. This doesn’t get you out of difficult conversations because you’re not good at them. No one likes it and you can’t use this as an excuse!
    • Be clear about who you are – Communicate your beliefs and what you stand for, let people opt in and out of your leadership as they inevitably will if there’s a clash in belief or style. People want to follow someone who they believe in.
    • Trust and loyalty are key – Authenticity builds trust and trust builds organisational and customer loyalty. Just like any relationship outside of the workplace, without trust and loyalty, you don’t have anything. So these are essential ingredients for workplace relationships and are important for authentic leadership.
    • Know your values – You can’t authentically be a leader if you don’t know what you stand for – if you know your values, you know the standards you will hold people to and you can back those standards with a clear why.

Are you looking to evolve your leadership skills and understand how to implement the concept of authentic leadership in your business?

We have assembled inspiring luminaries alongside Australia’s top CEOs and MDs to help you develop your leadership through authenticity, openness, and trust. Back for its fifth year on 17-20 March, the Authentic Leadership Summit 2020 is not to be missed. Tickets are selling fast, get yours here.

Best Advice I’ve Ever Been Given

Over the years of my career and personal life to date, I have heard many words of wisdom. From inspiring advice, raw and moving, interesting to whacky, and everything in between. There are two quotes in particular from two incredible Australian businesswomen leaders that has really stuck with me and I now live by, definitely the best advice I’ve ever been given.

“Your children aren’t comparing the amount of time you spend with them to other kids in the playground. Their normal is normal.” – Erica Berchtold, The Iconic

What does this mean to me? Well, as a mother of twins under the age of 5, this one really got me. At our Women in Leadership Summit (WILS) last year, Erica spoke a lot about creating your own normal, and this resonated with me in so many ways.

Stop comparing yourself to other people, create your own narrative and live life your way. I know it’s hard but try not to compare your parenting and the time you have with your children to other parents – you do you. You have to work full time to support your children, you need pay off your mortgage, you want to continue your successful career, whatever it is! Who cares what anyone else thinks.

Quit the guilt! The amount of time you spend with your children is what it is – they don’t know any better, their normal is normal.

Don’t get caught up in the ‘what ifs’ or ‘should haves’, just do what’s best for you and your family. Let’s face it, you’re the only person who has your best interests at heart.

“You have an obligation to other women to support and mentor them, but not just that, to recommend them to others that might help them up.” – Angela Mentis BNZ

What an inspirational lady. Honestly, she says it how it is. She’s right. As a woman in business, you absolutely have that obligation. You need to do your bit to support other women and offer mentorship to bring out the best in them. You need to show up, show your real self, and own it. Lead by example and offer wisdom.

There’s no such thing as having too many mentors. If you know someone who aligns with the values and vision of other female leaders you’re connected with, why not leverage your relationships? You never know, this female leader could relate to situations this individual may be facing, they could learn so much and put learning into action with the right support. A simple introduction could make a huge difference. By doing this, you could play a major part in their future leadership potential!

Now I would love to know, what’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

If you want to learn what it takes to be a leader from Australia’s leading businesswomen, be inspired by personal stories of success and learn from intimate tales of failure – The Empowered Woman is the place to be. To be held in Sydney on 26 March 2020, the inaugural one-day event will feature keynote speakers including Sarah-Jane Clarke, Colleen Calander and Suzy Nicoletti to name a few. Book your tickets now.

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.