Monday 26 February 2018

It takes a fool to remain sane: lessons of authentic leadership


There is no better way of speaking about effective leadership than to write the real story of an authentic leader.

I have recently been involved in conversations with a relatively young leader responsible for 1.250 people in a complex and politically delicate organisation.

All our talks have been around what leadership looks like in every-day life. More specifically:

  • How can you focus on developing your people while dealing with emergencies 24 hours a day?
  • How can you be someone people look up to with respect while still being emotionally accessible?
  • How can you keep connected with organisational priorities while not losing sight of details?(which, in his case, can potentially put people’s life in danger)

Here is what he says:

I am just like everybody else. Possibly my only difference is that I have not forgotten how to play. Playing means not being victims of social clichés. It means not apologizing for what you do and having the courage to challenge the conventions others expect you to blindly follow. Only if you stay in the position of openness and positive curiosity that children typically have, can you then be attentive to what happens around you – be it expected or, especially, unexpected… on the other hand, as my favourite songs says ‘it takes a fool to remain sane’.

As a coach and consultant, I am often in conversations with both established leaders and with high potentials in their first people management position. I see excellence and challenges every day. I see ambitions and struggles. I see desires and dreams.

What I don’t see a lot of is voicing ‘the gut feeling’ – that deep energy that comes from the belly and that we all have thanks to our own and unique experiences and failures. That intuition that comes from thinking and feeling freely and that can make you go much further than expected. In other words, that creative and liberating energy that we can foster only by allowing ourselves moments of craziness…

or... as The Ark sing:

Do, do, do what you wanna do
Don't think twice,
do what you have to do
Do, do, do, do, let your heart decide
That's all there is to find


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marianna Amy Crestani is Head of the Coaching Practice at TCO International – Accelerating Global Agility. With over 25 years’ experience, we have supported more than 60,000 people in over 100 organisations across 140 countries. We provide customised solutions and open workshops for individuals, teams and entire organisations in the area of global agility. Join the discussion on this post on Linkedin: For more information or questions contact