Authentic leadership is change you can cultivate

Leaders should lead, not issue orders; they are a lighthouse to the other colleagues' boats, not shadowy figures sitting atop an organizational chart

by Francesca Bellettini


“Leadership” is not a title. It doesn’t appear on any organizational chart and can’t exist without respect for others and oneself.

A leader helps people work better, identifying and building on their qualities and keeping them moving in the right direction.

A leader’s most important quality is their ability to make sound decisions based on the information available at any given time. Doing so avoids paralyzing others due to the fear of the risks involved in every decision. Be aware of the risks, but do not let them weaken you if they are reasonable to take.

I firmly believe that the biggest mistake a leader can make is freezing their company out of fear of making a mistake. Dilemmas can’t always be solved by taking all the time needed to apply the “perfect” solution. But, in reality, does THE perfect solution even exist? Rarely. The best solution in a given moment is what counts the most. Even if, looking back after some time, you think you would have done things differently. This is the basis of learning and improving.

Facing reality with pragmatism, and focusing on what we can control, is the first acknowledgment to overcome an issue. A flat heartbeat means death. And, for a company, inaction is the equivalent of a flat heartbeat.

All this sounds easier than it is; I am very aware of it. The fear of making mistakes is human, and not being afraid could be dangerous, making you irresponsible. The answer is always balance.

The fear of making mistakes is human, and not being afraid could be dangerous, making you irresponsible. The answer is always balance.

You start growing as a leader when you understand and trust that mistakes made in good faith can be opportunities since they offer a chance to learn and grow.

Having such a mindset is also the way to be aware of the responsibilities that any leadership position bears but not disabled by it. Such a mentality opens up your mind, lets you dare, creates opportunities, and it is the only possibility to lead successfully, even more so in a crisis.

Under pressure, we can find courage by focusing on what we can control and mastering it as well as we can. In a crisis, we can find determination by fostering, even more, a culture of optimism and considering the team more important than any Individual.

The team must clearly understand the long-term goals, not cut corners to achieve short-term success, and remain very agile in the execution, without panicking.

Building the best team is the most vital asset to win over the competition in any scenario. Therefore, the ability to attract, engage and retain the best is an incredible competitive advantage. One of the biggest challenges for fast-growing companies is managing to not dilute the level of talent they have built.

My bosses taught me never to be afraid to hire the best, invest my time in mentoring and coaching, and keep learning from the people around me to remain curious and open to discussion.

A person’s career also depends a lot on the people they’ve worked with and the bosses they’ve had. As a leader, you have a responsibility to enable future talent to flourish. Encouraging them, coaching them, and giving them the visibility and ability to express themselves and grow, gives the leader a purpose. It becomes a legacy and the ultimate statement of authentic leadership.