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How to be an authentic leader - my personal story

In the swiftly shifting world we navigate today, the very essence of leadership has broken free from the confines of traditional norms. Enter authentic leadership—a transformative approach that champions genuineness, empathy, and collaboration. For women in leadership roles, this concept bears a profound significance, as they reshape the very definition of leadership by embracing their distinctiveness. Let's embark on a journey to delve into the heart of authentic leadership, exploring its implications for women in today's dynamic landscape.

Sandrine Perrier

A Personal Odyssey to Authentic Leadership

Have you ever had this feeling of being one person at work and another person at home?

In the early stages of my career, I found myself under the guidance of women leaders who mirrored the traditional archetype of male leadership, where power and authoritative commands took center stage. This approach seemed like a source of credibility, influence, and assertiveness. Admittedly, it had its merits, but there was a catch.

As I observed and internalized this dynamic, I, too, began to echo these behaviors. In my pursuit of success, I adopted a persona that didn't truly align with who I am. I assumed a role that felt increasingly detached from my core identity. It didn't take long to realize the toll it was taking on my well-being.

This journey, however, was interwoven with a story that shaped my perspective deeply. Growing up, my family grappled with domestic abuse as my father's anger exerted control over my mother. Witnessing my mother's vulnerability being equated with weakness, I internalized a skewed perception. I associated anger with strength, convinced that it was the key to avoiding dominance. This narrative inadvertently fueled my pursuit of leadership.

Awakening to Authentic Leadership

Over time, I recognized that my narrative was incomplete. My personal journey taught me that true strength lies not in masking vulnerability, but in embracing it. The authenticity that genuine leadership demands encompasses the courage to acknowledge vulnerabilities as stepping stones to growth. It's about opening up, sharing stories, and fostering trust – all of which I had seen as counterproductive.

My transformation wasn't immediate. It involved a shift from viewing my own vulnerabilities as liabilities to recognizing them as assets. Drawing from the courage it took my mother to stand strong in the face of adversity, I began embracing my own authenticity.

Empowerment Through Resilience

My mother's story played a pivotal role in shaping my values and beliefs. She, too, had been a foreigner and a political refugee, grappling not only with the challenges within my father's family but also with the discrimination of society. This adversity led me to believe that she was perceived as flawed simply for being herself, unable to transcend the boundaries that others had set. Her journey was one of battling for acceptance, and this ignited a fire within me.

This backdrop fed my anger, but it also forged a profound sense of justice and equality. It instilled in me the understanding of how essential it is for everyone to be treated as equals and to be included, regardless of their background or circumstances. My mother's experience illuminated the significance of standing up against discrimination and standing up for those whose voices are often silenced.

Exploring authentic leadership

This evolution redirected my approach to leadership. It led me to explore the facets of authentic leadership – a form of guidance that transcends traditional norms. Authentic leadership, I realised, empowers women to remain true to themselves while motivating others. In my journey through these dimensions, I unearthed its profound influence on women in leadership roles.

Embracing vulnerability

Central to authentic leadership is the embracing of vulnerability – a quality that cultivates trust and relatability. Women leaders who openly share their challenges and setbacks create an atmosphere of openness. This not only strengthens bonds but also ignites a culture of collaboration and innovation.

Empathy and inclusivity

Authentic leadership is anchored in empathy, a trait that often shines brighter among women leaders. Their innate ability to appreciate diverse viewpoints fosters an inclusive environment. By nurturing empathy, women leaders create a sense of belonging and mutual understanding within their teams.

Cultivating self-swareness

The cornerstone of authentic leadership lies in self-awareness. Women leaders who prioritise self-reflection make informed decisions that resonate with their values. This journey of self-discovery serves as an inspiration for others to contribute authentically, nurturing a shared sense of purpose.

Continual growth and learning

In our modern era, learning is an ongoing voyage. Authentic women leaders acknowledge the value of perpetual growth. Their willingness to evolve and embrace new knowledge sets an example, motivating their teams to explore uncharted territories and embrace innovation.

Breaking boundaries, fostering change

Authentic women leaders are unique forces who defy conventional norms. Their authentic approach ignites transformative change, not just within their organisations, but society as a whole. Their influence empowers women to challenge limits, dismantle barriers, and chart new trajectories.

Balancing strength and compassion

Authentic leadership seamlessly weaves strength and compassion. Women leaders adeptly navigate intricate interpersonal dynamics with resilience and empathy. This equilibrium ensures effective leadership while nurturing meaningful connections.

In a world characterized by rapid evolution, authentic leadership emerges as a resonant answer to contemporary expectations. For women, it becomes a pathway to lead with genuineness, nurturing growth, compassion, and empowerment. As women continue to redefine the landscape of leadership, embracing authenticity becomes both a choice and an obligation—one that empowers not only the present but also paves the way for generations of future women leaders.

My personal journey illustrates that authenticity isn't about shunning vulnerability, but about embracing it with the strength that comes from within. The lessons I gleaned from my mother's resilience and the struggles she faced underscore the importance of equality and inclusion. It's this very essence of authentic leadership that I now aspire to share with others, hoping to inspire them to lead from the heart and create a world of empowerment and growth. Just as my mother overcame obstacles to emerge stronger, authentic leadership empowers individuals to overcome barriers, both internal and external, and emerge as more resilient, impactful leaders. Just as my mother's journey from a foreigner and political refugee to a beacon of strength taught me the significance of embracing one's true self, I am here to guide others on a similar path of self-discovery.

If my journey has shown anything, it's that leadership is not just about commanding from the top, but about connecting from the heart. I invite you to embark on this journey with me, where authenticity is celebrated, vulnerabilities are transformed into strengths, and each step is guided by the principles of equality, empathy, and empowerment. Together, we can pave the way for a future where leadership is a collective force, and where every individual's unique voice contributes to the symphony of positive change. If you're ready to explore the transformative power of authentic leadership and embark on a path of growth, empowerment, and meaningful impact, I am here to accompany you every step of the way. Let's begin this inspiring journey together.


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I'm an international women's coach. I help and empower women to find their voice, overcome obstacles, and achieve their career goals.

Sandrine Perrier

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