Studies show that more than 77% of all employees do not trust their managers, 63% do not believe in what leaders say, 83% believe that managers work just for their own benefits, and less than 40% of the workforce is truly committed to their boss or company.
At the same time humanity faces the biggest challenge in its history: a global economy that is outgrowing the capacity of the earth to support it. Given a true “credibility crisis of leaders” and some complex challenges on Earth, we might ask what leaders have to do so as to power sustainable business success.
When I was 27 years old, life offered me the first big leadership challenge: After my boss had died in an airplane crash I was asked to run an M 500 US$ project. At this time I faced two essential questions: “What does it take as a leader to cope successfully with such a demanding challenge? And how could I earn credibility and trust while lacking life, leadership, and business experience?”
As a consequence I unconsciously applied some essential leadership principles resulting in a sweeping success: The project was not just finished on time and budget, we even succeeded in cutting costs by another M 50 US$.
Given this essential milestone in my life I repeatedly applied these key fundamentals in many cases, which mostly allowed me to attain four major objectives: 1) to earn trust through credibility, 2) to ignite the fire inside people, 3) to empower people, and 4) to create a sense of purpose for employees:
The courage of being authentic. Successful leaders act according to what they say and feel in their hearts. They dare to be true to themselves and to others in four essential areas: 1) They have clarified their life purpose and values, and seek an environment allowing them to live up to it, 2) they know their strengths and weaknesses and dare to admit them, 3) they dare to speak up and provide honest feedback while simultaneously respecting the needs of others, and 4) they do not form opportunistic relationships but build strong emotional bonds with people who share their visions and values. The biggest hurdles of being authentic are fears of failing and losing power or status. The irony is that authentic leaders earn natural and sustainable power by virtue of their credibility, while managers who conform try to exert artificial power but often fall into the abyss of scorn.
Consider leadership as a vocation. Do you like people? Do you feel passionate about inspiring them and promoting collaboration? Do you like to communicate? Leadership is all about people. Successful leaders know that leadership is not an activity, it is a vocation. Driven by their passion for people, they generate peak performance for themselves and others. Many people get promoted into leadership positions just to learn that they would have preferred to stay in their former positions. It again requires authenticity to follow your true preference.
Build a shining coalition. Most organization charts are still depicted in a typically hierarchical form that promotes a mindset of command and control: The boss is sitting at the top, and the poor suppliers or contractors are mostly at the bottom. When I was young and lacked credibility and trust I had no other option but to break down hierarchical barriers, inviting suppliers, clients, and stakeholders to build an arena of appreciative collaboration. I started to surround myself with “circles” of powerful people who had more knowledge and expertise than me and who helped to build a platform boosting innovative and creative thinking, which in turn generated shared value for all and let them truly shine. Rather than sticking to the outdated organization chart driven by hierarchies and ending up in distrust, I created circles of trust that helped to establish a networked organization, boosting credibility and highest respect for each other.
Empowering people. Nobody wants to perform a 9-to-5 job. One of the real catalysts for creating shared value within your company that increases productivity is to living up to an authentic leader’s real task: to create an environment of trust and credibility so as to allow people to dare to unleash up their true potential. So, leaders promote first the capabilities of their employees, then they increase the “degree of ability”; this means the company provides a platform through job enrichment, job rotation, removing fears, and promoting open communication so that employees can live up to their potential.
Andreas Dudàs. Swiss, visionary entrepreneur, mentor, motivational speaker, and expert on authentic leadership. More than 20 years experience in top executive positions in over 25 countries. Founder of the BE SHiRO Group in Switzerland and India, dedicated to empower individuals and organizations to achieve greatness through authenticity. Author of “Do you dare to be yourself? Developing power in life and leadership through authenticity." Learn more about Andreas at www.andreasdudas.com/book.
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