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Authentic Leadership in a world of style and glamour
Authentic leadership, to me, means being your own true self and realizing that we are all human and need to respect and care for each other at all times.
Authentic leadership, to me, means being your own true self and realizing that we are all human and need to respect and care for each other at all times. I’ve been truly inspired by our fearless leader, Steve Wood, who is always there for his team no matter what and empowers us to be our best every day.
I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from an authentic leader, and I look up to his leadership style anytime I get stuck and am not sure what to do next. In those instances, I ask myself: “What would Steve do?” Doing so, I’m able to find clarity and purpose and my decision becomes much easier.
As leaders, we have to make tough choices, and our teams may not always understand why we do what we do. We need to be transparent and share to the best of our ability. Our decisions impact their day-to-day work, and we need to be mindful and respectful of that every day. I am privileged to serve my team and I would do anything to help them succeed in their endeavors.
I remember our first conference when Steve walked in for his product keynote just like he does every day at the office — no suit and tie. A true tech entrepreneur in San Francisco, dressed in jeans and sporty shoes. I guess he wants people to focus on the keynote content and not on him. That’s when I learned that the term “dress like your next career” doesn’t really mean anything.
This helped me realize that I can be who I am and not have to pretend — no-frills style. This was my “aha” moment. I could be myself at all times.
When I think of authentic leadership, here are a few highlights I learned:
Embrace your curiosity. Curiosity is what got me excited when I had my first opportunity to work with Steve. We kicked off brainstorming to outline the new platform story, and it was amazing how down-to-earth and open he was. Great leaders do not have the “I am senior to you” or “ let me tell you what you need to do” attitude. Instead, they stay open, curious and believe in collaboration and collective thinking.
Positivity breathes beyond the four walls. I was lucky to experience true leadership while working together on projects and leading a team, always knowing that Steve has my back. I was never worried if Steve would approve; he always brought the best out of us, even when we didn’t see it. As leaders, it’s important to remain positive, encourage new ideas and empower our teams to believe that the sky is the limit and that anything is possible.
Follow your passion every day. I could tell that Steve gave his heart and soul to anything and everything he did. His charismatic and simplistic nature helped make his vision and core values true and believable. These characteristics lead everyone to genuinely want to know what their leader is up to next.
Find your balance between work and life. It’s easy for us to spend all our days and nights working on the next deadline or project only to realize that time is never coming back again. It’s important to find balance and prioritize the most important things in a day. Our lives do not revolve around work, and we should always bring our best self to work and home at all times.
Be humble and genuine. It’s easier said than done. Everyone wants to be nice, but humility goes leaps and bounds even after the leader has left the room. I remember my first interaction with our CEO, chief operating officer (COO) and chief product officer (CPO) when working on a presentation — when executive leaders are all jumping in to help, it makes the difference of a lifetime and, for me, it is a memory I will cherish forever.
Lead with inspiration and long-term vision. It’s not a zero-sum game. When you know your leader has everyone’s best interest at heart and you trust their long-term vision, you know this is the best journey ahead for the company and its employees. I am lucky to have had the pleasure of working with one such leader who can get everyone excited about the new journey. It’s not all smooth roads, but great leadership ensures everyone is willing to face the speed bumps and do whatever it takes to win together.
A few of my favorite leadership quotes that enlighten my day:
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” - John Quincy Adams
“The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.”- Ralph Nader
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”- Steve Jobs
A couple of years ago, I wrote about leadership as a privilege and becoming the kind of leader I would follow. I aspire to be fearless one day and embody authentic leadership, finding my symphony in a world of chaos and information overload.
Originally published at https://www.forbes.com