Business Leader and Author Andreas Dudas: Embark on a Rewarding Journey
Authentic leaders who are able to move the others’ hearts are in great demand. Living authentically is the be-all-and-end-all for finding inner peace, gaining more self-confidence and following your true calling, which all in turn helps to make this planet a better place. We all were once fully connected to our souls when we were born. However, while we grow up we lose the connection to our true self. Fear rules our lives, we are worried that we might never amount to anything, that others wouldn’t accept us the way we really are. Coupled with that fear is the constant uncertainty. We often agree to anything and everything, trying to guess and satisfy the unspoken needs of others.
Why do we act this way? The answer is simple. We always receive a reward for such a behavior. For a fleeting moment, we feel needed and acknowledged. We value praise and respect much more than listening to the heart. But remember, nobody else but you alone can award honest love, praise and recognition to your unique self.
Authenticity can neither be acquired nor learned. Authenticity can just be regained, for it has always been lying on our heart. It requires that you love yourself for all the good that you see and accept your flaws and the fact that you are imperfect. Becoming an authentic leader asks for reclaiming your authenticity through embarking on an intense and sometimes long journey, starting first with getting acquainted with your true self and then following an inch-by-inch process:
Develop self-respect and fall in love with yourself: Self-respect has nothing to do with selfishness, as many people argue. Nowadays, we are all well connected electronically, but very often disconnected from our own hearts and souls. Many individuals do not honor their real values lying inside them. Instead, they are consistently seeking recognition in the outer world and are playing roles so as to receive praise. Living authentically requires spending a lot of time on getting to know one’s strengths and values, but also weaknesses, feelings and what one really wants to get out of life. Know that only by first following your heart and by respecting yourself you‘ll be able to touch other people’s hearts. Be therefore proud of your true self. Celebrate your little successes on a daily basis and jot them down in a separate journal you are always carrying with you. One of the key distinguishing characteristics of authentic leaders is that they are anchored by their own deep sense of self.
Live your passion: Do the work you love or love the work you do! Anything else leads to depression, burn-out and loss of self-confidence. Ideally you choose a job which is one hundred percent consistent with your authentic calling. You will learn and acquire some leadership skills in the course of your career. However, I am convinced that leadership is not a role you are playing, or a profession you learn. It is a true calling. In this sense, authentic leaders are first “born” with innate leadership qualities and only later “made” through the acquisition of certain skills. By blending your courage of being true to yourself, with choosing leadership as your authentic calling, you develop a “deadly” combination moving people’s hearts.
Find your life purpose: Purpose is your inner compass, fueling deeper meaning both in your life and work. Purpose is also a fundamental aim of your organizations’ existence. Your purpose is about creating and not fixing things. To find it, ask yourself what would you choose to do if you had unlimited time and resources? What would you do if money did not matter? What activities do you consider of greatest value?
Live by your values: Living authentically means that you stand by your values and beliefs that you hold most dear. Values provide important guidance when you are looking for a new job, get a promotion or chose a new working environment. Identify your values by asking yourself: When am I happiest? When do I forget time and live completely in the “here and now”? What activities do I enjoy most and why?
Have a big vision: All great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi (Mahatma means “great soul”) are big visionaries whose dreams contain a touch of the impossible. In order to move things and people, there must be first a vision. Dare to create a vision even if it were dismissed as naive, utopian or too idealistic. The purpose you have identified fuels vision, vision ignites passion and passion breeds courage. As an authentic leader you will face criticism, you might get ridiculed and considered as a non-conformist. Therefore, you need a lot of courage and a thick skin. Your vision will help to build up both of them.
Identify what is holding you back: Most people feel the urgent yearning for following their hearts. However, most remain stuck in the middle and don’t dare move out of their comfort zone. The fear of failure, of rejection, of reality, of getting to really know yourself, the fear that it will never work, account for the major reasons preventing us from exploiting our vast potential lying dormant in our true selves. Remember, what you resist persists. Therefore, feel the fear and do it anyway. Embrace your fear and understand the message it wants to reveal to you.
Align your “true self” with your company’s soul: Ask yourself, does the company’s soul that is reflected in the corporate vision, mission and values coincide with your true self? Does your current working and living environment allow you to live up to your unique values and life purpose? This is a crucial acid test and it requires you to be brutally true to yourself so as to authentically answer the above questions. If your personal values and life purpose clash with those of your company, you will never be able to ignite the fire inside your employees.
Preference: Leadership is all about people! This sounds logical and very simple, but too many people in leadership positions do not like to deal with “people issues”. There is nothing wrong about it. But again, you should be honest with yourself. If you don’t love to work as a “people person”, don’t go for it! You will never excel in your job as a leader and you won’t be comfortable relating one-on-one with people at all levels of an organization, which will result in a rapid loss of your credibility and self-confidence.
Communication: Authentic leaders communicate honestly, with empathy and clarity. Actually they develop a real passion for a vivid and open communication. They have developed the immense power of acting according to what their heart is telling them while respecting the other person’s needs, feelings and principles. Therefore, listening to the heart of others so as to earn deepest respect, and assuring the other person that she or he is heard and understood, is the major cornerstone of an authentic leader’s communication. Do not just show. Take a real interest in the work of your employees. Take your time to spontaneously see them at least once a week, which builds a high degree of integrity. Forget completely about communicating through emails, which often leads to misunderstandings and a low degree of credibility.
Many other attributes such as fairness, compassion or the capability to set clear goals, account also for critical traits of great leaders. But believe me, they are either a natural outcome from living up to all of the above principles or can be easily acquired. Forget about the bewildering array of theories about effective leadership. The only key is to reclaim your true self, live authentically and follow leadership as your true calling. Then the rest of the world will follow you!
Andreas Dudàs has more than 20 years leadership experience gained in top executive positions in over 25 countries. Visionary entrepreneur, mentor, motivational speaker & expert on authentic (life) leadership, he is the author of Do You Dare To Be Yourself? Learn more at http://www.andreasdudas.com/