Sattar Bawany: Discovering Your Authentic Leadership

Dr Sattar Bawany is launching a new presentation on “Discovering Your Authentic Leadership”, and below are his thoughts on it:

Prof Sattar Bawany

It continues to surprise us through our Executive Coaching engagements how many leaders attempt to be one way at work, while their “true” personality emerges outside of work. It is surprising when these same leaders seem shocked or confused when their employees don’t trust them, don’t like them, and can’t really wait to work elsewhere.

Authenticity has been explored throughout history, from Greek philosophers to the work of Shakespeare (“To thy own self be true.” – Polonius, Hamlet). Authentic leadership has been explored sporadically as part of modern management science, but found its highest levels of acceptance since Bill George’s 2003 book, Authentic Leadership.

Demystifying Authentic Leadership

But what is authentic leadership? How can you become and remain an authentic leader? Are organizations choosing and developing the right people to lead?

Authentic leaders, according to Bill George, genuinely desire to serve others through their leadership. They are interested in empowering the people they lead to make a difference; more than they are interested in power, money or prestige for themselves.

They are guided equally by the heart and the mind – practicing heart-based guidance grounded in passion and compassion, as well as thoughtful leadership grounded in the qualities of the mind. They lead with purpose, meaning and values. And their people relationships are extremely strong. People follow them because they are consistent, reliable and strong. When they are pushed to go beyond their beliefs and values, they will not compromise. They are dedicated to personal growth and learning because they believe that becoming a leader takes a lifetime.

Authentic leadership encourages individuals to investigate their pasts, identify key defining moments in their lives that helped shape who they are and use these as springboards to identify their individual, authentic leadership purposes. In fact, leadership is very personal and different for everyone.

Authentic leaders are Level 5 leaders who demonstrate ontological humility and are aware of their strengths, their limitations, and their emotions. They also show their real selves to their followers. They do not act one way in private and another in public; they don’t hide their mistakes or weaknesses out of fear of looking weak. They also realize that being self-actualized is an endless journey, never complete.

Authentic leaders are mission driven and focused on results. They are able to put the interest of their people the centre of their business strategy. Highly engaged and motivated employees make the difference between a truly successful organization and a mediocre entity is the driver of customer engagement. Authentic leaders are mission driven and focused on results. They are able to put the mission and the goals of the organization ahead of their own self-interest. They do the job in pursuit of results, not for their own power, money or ego.

Authentic leaders lead with their heart, not just their minds. They are not afraid to show their emotions, their vulnerability and to connect with their employees. This does not mean authentic leaders are “soft.” They leverage on Socialised Power and not Personalised Power. They are able to demonstrate Social Intelligence competencies. When the situation warrants it, they communicate in a highly impactful and direct manner, which is critical to successful outcomes, but it’s done with empathy; directness without empathy is cruel.

Authentic Leader’s Purpose and Values

Essence of authentic leadership is to create future that is better than the present; PURPOSE and VALUES are the guides that help you in pursuing it. Your PURPOSE and VALUES define your leadership identity, and give you they energy you need to stay the course.

The only way to define your purpose and values is to ask yourself some tough questions and answer them honestly. Answers may not come to you right away, so you have to keep asking the questions until you find the answers that are right for you.

Great leaders understand the importance of recognizing and channeling their emotions toward great performance and away from regrettable performance; they also understand that a prerequisite to managing emotions is having clarity about values.

How do values determine emotions? A core trigger of emotions in life is either a match or a mismatch between deeply held values and the situation at hand. The degree and type of emotion felt depends on the extent of the match or mismatch.


In this highly impactful presentation, Professor Sattar Bawany outlines what it means to be a leader. Leadership is not about style or emulating another leader. It’s about responsibility and stewardship. A true leader appeals not only to people’s minds, but to their hearts, as leaders demonstrate through their vision and values.

Prof Bawany will provide insights on this topic of Authentic Leadership based on contemporary research as well as his observations as a Master Executive Coach about the transformative experiences of his C-Suite Level Coachees, which will help inform your own journey towards authentic leadership.

Sattar Bawany

Prof Sattar Bawany is the Managing Director & Master Executive Coach of EDA Asia Pacific. EDA is a global leader in executive and leadership development whose mission is to help organizations successfully address their marketplace challenges and accelerate the execution of their business strategy.

Sattar has over 25 years international business management experience, including 15 years in executive coaching, group facilitation, and leadership development and training with global management consulting firms. He also has over 15 years of academic experience as an adjunct professor teaching senior executives international business strategies and HR courses at leading universities.

He is a keynote speaker at international and regional conferences, workshops and seminars on the following themes: executive leadership development, employee engagement and managing across the generational gap, strategic human resource management, and talent management and succession planning.

If you would like to engage Sattar to speak at your next event, then you simply need to contact us at info@speakersconnect or +852 21654126.