Managing Director of Unilever Ghana, Ms Maidie Elizabeth Arkutu says it is imperative for people to define their purpose and outline their action plan so as to become authentic leaders.
She says authentic leadership is an approach to leadership that emphasizes building the leader’s legitimacy through honest relationships with followers which value their input and are built on an ethical foundation.
According to her, authentic leaders are positive people with truthful self-concepts who promote openness.
Ms Maidie Elizabeth Arkutu was delivering a presentation at a public lecture organized by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIMG) yesterday, April 5, 2016 at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Accra.
The Unilever MD who was addressing the topic, “Authentic Leadership: The True Path Of Being A Great Leader,” stressed the fact that leadership is relational and the leader needs followers who expect to be developed and therefore one’s leadership position must be relevant to the people who follow him or her.
“Who you are and what makes you distinctive. We all have the capacity to inspire and empower others. But we must first be willing to devote ourselves to our personal growth and development as leaders,” she said.
Maidie Elizabeth Arkutu also enumerated that to become authentic leader, one must be himself/herself “more – with skill.”
According to her, authentic leaders are self-actualized individuals who are aware of their strengths, their limitations, and their emotions and show their real selves to their followers.
She explained that such people don’t hide their mistakes or weaknesses out of fear of looking weak, but realize that being self-actualized is an endless journey, which is never complete.
She told participants at the lecture that authentic leaders are also mission driven and focused on results as they must be able to put the mission and the goals of the organization ahead of their own self-interest.
Ms Arkutu who was so passionate with her delivery indicated that the journey begins with leaders understanding their life stories, framing their stories in ways that allow them to see themselves not as passive observers but as individuals who learn from their experiences.
“These leaders make time to examine their experiences and to reflect on them and in doing so they grow as individuals and as leaders. Authentic leaders also work hard at developing self-awareness through persistent and often courageous self-exploration.”
She likened this situation to great leaders like Nelson Mandela who was very relevant during the apartheid through to prison and was still relevant during the post apartheid period and Richard Branson who seized the opportunity through every situation through music, airlines across decades to become successful.
She also mentioned that denial can be the greatest hurdle that leaders face in becoming self-aware, but authentic leaders ask for, and listen to, honest feedback as they use formal and informal support networks to help them stay grounded and lead incorporated lives.
She said people must begin with an idea, set of values, a dream and a vision to pursue to make their purpose for which they can fight for as great and authentic leaders.
Oh his part, the National President of CIMG, Mr. Kojo Mattah who gave his opening and closing remarks during the lecture said, the event was put together to engage people of diverse sectors in order to sharpen skills and knowledge so as to remain relevant in their fields of endeavors.
He said, leadership transcends at all level of social endeavor and that the progress of leadership is based on effective communication, skills training and though sharing.
Speaking to some participants after the lecture, they lauded the passion with which Ms Arkutu made her delivery.
According to many people, the ongoing problems in business leadership over the past five years have underscored the need for a new kind of leader in the twenty-first century, an authentic leader, hence the lecture and the topic came at an opportune time to help address this situation.
However, Ms Arkutu in an interview after her presentation said, achieving business results over a sustained period of time is the ultimate mark of authentic leadership and that it may be possible to drive short-term outcomes without being authentic, but authentic leadership is the only way to create long-term results.
The 3rd in series of the CIMG lecture was attended by CEOs, senior and middle level corporate executives from the various sectors of the economy.