When you have gained significant experience in a given professional field, it is common to take many skills for granted, forgetting the long journey you took to learn them. That is, until you have the opportunity to engage with the perspectives of young college students whose questions prompt you to reexamine certain aspects of your work in depth.

How do you best manage meetings in which different figures with different ideas interact? I get asked more and more by young people. The answer is not simple, but it is condensed into one word: authenticity. Being an authentic leader nowadays is a real skill. 

Contrary to popular belief, leadership is not limited to influence over others or mere technical expertise. On the contrary, it is the ability to inspire others through shared principles. When conducting a moment of discussion, manifesting this type of adherence to project values generates a synergistic effect of participation, which transforms teamwork into a powerful driving force, leading to extraordinary results that go beyond the mere sum of the parts.

However, teamwork does not imply homogenization, but rather enhances the differences and peculiarities of each individual. Authentic leaders are those who foster an environment in which every voice is heard and valued, thus contributing to a culture of constructive discussion.

There are numerous concrete examples of “accessible” leadership, in which the leader is not a distant, authoritarian figure, but rather a close reference, capable of creating open and welcoming discussion, sharing their own point of view and listening to that of others as well. Based on my own experience and vision, these are the characteristics of a leader: one who does not impose their own idea but instead advocates for a collaborative and inclusive approach.

It is an art that goes beyond mere command or control. It is the ability to conduct discussion by inspiring trust, transparency and integrity, creating an environment in which each person feels valued and motivated to give their all.

Responding to you young students, I close with a message that I hope you will take with you: “lead by example”. The value of a leader is measured not only by financial results, but also by how these are achieved, between authenticity and consistency. 

Andrea Mennillo

Founder and Managing Director, International Development Advisory 

Chairman Fordham University London Centre Advisory Board

Chairman Riviera Airport

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