The DAZN Network: ‘Authentic Leadership’

How do you find your own authentic leadership style and what are the benefits?

In the second event of our DAZN Network series we discussed the benefits of authentic leadership and how to achieve it. Our panellists, Jane Cahill (SVP Data Strategy & Analytics), Jenn Rivas, (Principal TPM), Fani Sazaklidou (VP Product Design) and Chris Haigh (VP Product – New Markets & Strategic), all drew on and shared experiences that have helped them in this area so far in their careers.

In their personal experiences, the key to finding your own authentic leadership style centred around:

• Identifying your own core values
• Being prepared to adapt to the needs of your team
• Genuinely caring for your team members

Jane Cahill kicked off proceedings by giving her experience around finding an authentic leadership style: “It can take courage to be authentic at work. We all face different pressures – fitting in with people around you and the working culture, figuring out how to be successful and get things done, and making sure our ways of working complement other leaders and managers we work closely with. Being able to bring out your authentic leadership style and approach will help you to build trust and buy-in from others – because people can tell when we’re being genuine, and when we’re putting on a front.”

The first big step in that journey is to identify your own core values. Knowing what it is that you stand for, what it is that you care about passionately – that can help to build your authenticity and get your team to buy into your vision, goals, projects and more – because they see that you believe in what you stand for and what you’d like to achieve.

Not only will being authentic enable you to get the most out of your team, it will also enable you to get the most out of yourself. Many of us will perform better at work (and in life) when we’re being ourselves. When we try to change our makeup, whether it’s the way we dress or behave, we become a watered-down version of ourselves and are less concentrated on the task in front of us.

That isn’t to say that being authentic means we have a licence to be stubborn! There is a good balance between being true to your core values and also welcoming challenges that help you to grow.

Welcoming that challenge takes humility and is a big part of adapting to your team’s needs. As Chris said, “a key to success in leadership is listening to people and empowering them”.

Of course, we all know that it can sometimes be difficult to address feedback. But with most problems, once you have committed to taking it on, we will often find they are easier to resolve than we thought – perhaps being just problems of perception. That’s where listening to our teams, understanding their needs better and adapting to provide the environment that they need to thrive in helps everyone win. And leaders who listen and then take action are often seen as being genuine and authentic.

However, if we want people to share their thoughts and feedback with us as leaders, then it’s vital to demonstrate that we care about what they have to say. Having strong relationships with your team and seeing them as individuals rather than a resource will simultaneously encourage them to be themselves at work and make you approachable.

All the speakers encouraged investing time into understanding what motivates your team, adapting your leadership style to meet their needs and creating an environment that actively welcomes diversity. It was a great message for the event – especially with International Women’s Day coming up later this week!