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Leading with Authenticity is a New Type of Leadership

Leading with Authenticity is a New Type of Leadership

Leaders who guide with authenticity stand out as powerful and successful leaders in a society where being genuine is increasingly emphasized. Being true to yourself, your principles and your beliefs are the backbones of leading authentically. This entails being truthful and open in all circumstances of life, as well as being open to criticism. We sat with Claudiu Gall, delivery manager at EPAM Romania, who shared what leading with authenticity means for him.

First of all, what led you to a leadership path?

My experience as an account manager taught me to lead with authenticity and an open mind. I was leading a global team of 80 people working on a financial project, and I tried to sync with everyone and support them. This involved many business trips to connect with everyone, but it was all worth it. By meeting and listening to them explain on a personal level the issues they faced within the account, and what we needed to address, I received vital information for moving the team in the right direction, while smoothing the path and increasing collaboration.

This also helped me improve on a personal level.  I learned that there were certain traits I needed to adjust—from my action style to ways of communicating. The results were astonishing. I led this team for a year and a half, and only two people left the account because they relocated to other countries. At that point, that kind of retention was unheard of.

What triggered you to continue to explore the leadership role?

After my experience as an account manager, I was encouraged to become a better leader and share some of my experience because, being authentic is key, regardless of the number of people you are leading.

Natural leaders are aware of the value that trust brings to a team. Building trust requires both parties to be open and honest with one another. This way leaders are more likely to build solid, long-lasting relations with their teams and peers. With them on board, dedication, motivation and engagement follow from their way of being.

What are the key learnings you'd like to share with other managers looking to lead with authenticity?

Authentic leaders must be self-aware of their leadership style, values and beliefs, as well as their strengths and flaws. This pinpoints areas for improvement and helps them concentrate on becoming the greatest versions of themselves. Leaders who are self-aware can manage their own emotions and reactions more effectively. They recognize their triggers and understand how to evaluate their emotions and respond to challenging situations more thoughtfully and constructively. This also allows them to create a safe and positive work environment for their team members.

Leaders with a high degree of self-awareness are also more open to feedback and criticism and are willing to acknowledge areas of growth and development. They actively seek peer feedback and do this openly knowing that they have room to improve their leadership skills. This also shows that they value and respect others’ opinions.

Moreover, authentic leaders can build and maintain strong relationships with their team members, peers and all people they work with. They understand the importance of empathy, active listening and clear communication in building trust and rapport with others. They recognize the unique strengths and weaknesses of their team members and adjust their leadership styles accordingly.

A leader’s purpose is to create and motivate teams to go above and beyond. This helps increase the team members' motivation level, engagement and dedication because they understand how their job affects other areas of the business.

The ability to lead with sincerity also requires a high degree of emotional intelligence. Genuine leaders are capable of comprehending and controlling both their own and other people's emotions. They contain their emotions and avoid reacting impulsively, which can help prevent conflicts and create a positive work environment. Conflict resolution helps recognize and address potential conflicts before they escalate and manage conflicts when they arise. Authentic leaders stay objective and focused on finding solutions, which helps them resolve conflicts in a constructive and positive manner.

Also, they are committed to continuous learning and growth and are actively seeking opportunities to challenge themselves and step out of their comfort zone. Great leaders know leadership is a journey rather than a destination and dedicate their lives to it.

To conclude, authentic leadership is crucial for today's leaders. Authentic leaders foster a sense of trust among their team members, lead with a clear purpose, exhibit emotional intelligence, and are dedicated to ongoing learning and development. Building solid, long-lasting connections with team members, fostering a great work atmosphere, and inspiring them to achieve their goals are all possible when a leader leads authentically.

What advice would you give someone who'd like to pursue this path?

If you'd like to start your journey as an authentic leader, focus on practicing it and you'll get better every day.

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