The Authentic Change Journey – purpose and people led, with authenticity at its heart to unlock success

The Current Dilemma

Generally, when we think about organisational change, we think about a process, even if subconsciously and mostly, we think about a change process led from the top down. This is normally either a change process initiated by a new company strategy or a new leadership team, or a necessity due to a tactical response to external influences. Often, as leaders, we don’t stop to think of the inherent change challenge facing us as human beings, who are naturally resistant to change. Of course, we need to have a purpose driving the change because a change without a purpose makes absolutely no sense, like a football team without a coach. From my experience, as a Chief Financial Officer leading Human Resources, Strategy and Cultural Change, I know how challenging it is to introduce a new modern working environment, including the launch of new corporate values, creating an integrative culture and relocating three diverse businesses to a new campus, all within one large project. However, at the time, I thought it would be easy to convince the leaders of the benefits of this project. I did not anticipate the surprising response that followed.

The Inherent Change Challenge

Many people do not like change. Even the most adaptable of the species sometimes have negative reactions to change. Even if the outcomes are positive for some people, they simply don’t embrace the process of change. In this situation, we can only move forward with everyone’s buy in for a successful change journey when we analyse these negative reactions to find their source. In my earlier example, it took me six months to reach inside what I now term ‘the can of worms’ to find the core issue. Although we made articulate arguments for the change, conducted numerous briefings and communicated in different ways; several leaders were still reticent. The process of convincing them of the benefits of a new modern working environment was extremely slow. This was despite pointing out the various positive aspects for them as individuals and their teams. I was surprised to realise that many of the leaders didn’t embrace the change because they were scared of losing control or looking bad. I learnt that it is best to tip out ‘the can of worms’ to clearly understand the underlying fears and negative thoughts in the minds of leaders.

We can challenge the traditional thinking process and create a new paradigm, where authenticity at the core of a change journey, can be the differentiator; putting people and the human elements at the heart of the change to unlock its success. Discussing the fears around the change with enough emotional safety, which allows people to openly share, can effectively accelerate the change journey through a softer approach. We can be more effective by showing a bit of humanity and recognising people’s fears as fact, instead of simply burying it or getting impatient with the people who don’t get it fast enough. Or instead, in a worst-case scenario we can leave them behind and by so doing, drive them to become disengaged, disgruntled employees who, in time will impact the bottom line for instance, through mistakes, poor attitude or increased sick days. Then adversely we blame them, when in fact, we never spent the time focusing on the human aspect because it is too soft, or we don’t really understand, or we are afraid of it.

Unfortunately, many strategic or organisational change processes fail, costing organisations wasted profit and time by ignoring or not acknowledging the fears that might exist around the change. However, some fears may be helpful and can point to an adjustment required in the journey of change or an adaptation of the strategy. Traditionally, we are driving these processes top down and therefore, it might be too late in the process to amend or adjust, setting the course for failure from the start. .

Prerequisite for Authentic Change Leading Authentically

People need a basis of trust and emotional safety to be able to openly discuss their fears. This requires an organisational culture that celebrates authenticity and diversity. It also requires leaders who live and lead authentically: people who are real; can be trusted; and unconditionally respect difference. This is a place where fears can be acknowledged without judgement, where true diversity of thought is cultivated and appreciated, allowing true inclusion to follow.

Authentic Change: People, Purpose, Connectedness and Collaboration

The authentic change journey is about two dimensions, consciousness or awareness and connectedness. It focuses on the individual and their context within a team. Authentic change always starts by clarifying the ‘Why’ and ‘What’ questions. Why are we doing it and what is the purpose? However, the focus of authentic change is, more importantly, on the human dimension of purpose and dealing with any underlying fears. It is about creating an awareness and sense of purpose for individuals and must include clarity about their role in the change journey. For example, how they/their teams contribute to the success (reaching the destination); where they fit in; and what is in it for them, including what future opportunities are created or which risks are averted?

A deep assessment of why the change might be perceived negatively is invaluable at an early stage of the journey. This includes finding the reasons for any underlying fears, e.g. a loss of control, a strategic direction not fully understood or a leader who no longer knows what is expected of him or her. In a worst case, it can be a leader not believing in the strategy, but being too afraid to share this opinion for fear of damaging their career progression. Helping individuals to understand and respect these fears, acknowledging that they are not alone, will be helpful to the change process. Common fears experienced during organisational change can be:

  • losing control;
  • not knowing how to lead in a new environment;
  • the unknown and what will be expected of an individual;
  • or that a new strategy will fail and inadvertently cause individual exposure.

To be truly authentic the change journey must also focus on connectedness; a collective and collaborative approach with the shared motto, ‘we are all in it together’. Individual leaders move away from controlling the process, competing and minimising individual exposure and instead form a deeper connection with other people, understanding that everyone is part of the same journey. Leaders give more attention to all the different perspectives on an individual level and thus build a culture of authentic change at an organisational level. Instead of convincing everyone about the change from the top down, leaders engage with people and get them to feel that they are at the heart of the journey. Connectedness also has the ability to bond the leaders, building on each other’s strengths (early adopters) and complementing each other’s weaknesses (laggers) throughout the journey.

‘You and I are in the change process together. We might feel differently about it. However, what can we achieve together?’

This is a powerful way to create authentic advocates and change champions for successful change; people who are able to convince other people. This journey highlights the opportunities to be gained from peer-to-peer learning from the outset. Focusing on collaboration around the challenges to be faced by the individuals involved can help to overcome their underlying fears and enthuse and inspire other people in the team, creating purpose and meaning for everyone. On the flip-side, fearful leaders subconsciously transport negativity about the change to their teams.

The authentic change journey is not simply a change programme about the elements or facts of the change but is about the human beings involved. It focuses on how they are feeling and uses this knowledge to positively impact the change and drive it more efficiently in an engaging and empowering way for all involved.

POWER Emerges Through Authentic Change

The Authenticity POWER Model© as defined in “The Authenticity Dilemma Resolved®” provides the guiding elements for an individual’s personal authentic change process. Authenticity is gained through self-awareness, understanding the core, connected relationships and purpose driven collaboration. POWER is an acronym for Presence, Overcoming fear, Whole integrated being, Effortless flow and Resonance. The valuable benefits created by using this model are listed below.

Leaders have more Presence or confidence – through a better understanding of the purpose behind the change and how they relate to and feel about it.

Overcoming fear – leaders have the opportunity to learn from other people, overcoming their own fears and embracing the positivity of the frontrunners in the process.

The Whole integrated approach focusses on the human being in the process, the elements of change and the overall purpose; both individually and collectively.

Effortless flow – individuals flow through the various elements of the change curve with greater clarity and ease because they understand their feelings and fears and know they are not alone.

Leaders Resonate with what the organisation needs to achieve, their purpose and where they fit into the change journey, allowing them to positively impact and influence other people in the organisation.


Authentic change is a journey, not a sprint. When we can deal with change in a more humane way, allowing people to be their authentic selves, to share their fears and help alleviate fears in a more constructive way, it will lead to more efficient organisational change and provide new meaning to true partnership between organisations and their people. Then, perhaps more strategies can be implemented successfully as opposed to being ‘eaten by culture for breakfast’ as Peter Drucker states.

Copyright ® Talita Ferreira Authentic Change Solutions Limited

Is Donald Trump Authentic?

If you were to ask Mr Trump if he thinks he is authentic you would probably receive an overbearing response, such as; ‘Of course, I am authentic.’

But to answer this question properly, we need to define what we actually mean by authentic.

This question completely captured my attention a few years ago, when authenticity was launched as one of the new company values at the organisation where I was working as the Chief Financial Officer. It was a global multi-national organisation, where I spent more than 16 years of my life, mostly as a senior executive board director. I was captivated and inspired by this new quest and the subsequent research into the topic, which I wrote a book about to define clearly for myself and other people interested in the topic about what authenticity truly meant. The result was an unexpected journey to the birth of the Authenticity Power Model® and my first published book, The Authenticity Dilemma Resolved®.

The definition I concluded with was as follows. Authenticity equals consciousness plus connectedness (emotional and social intelligence) where consciousness and connectedness collide, and intuition and purpose-driven collaboration permeates what we do, everywhere, with everyone, all the time.

But what is consciousness? Consciousness is a deep understanding and awareness of ourselves; what drives us; what motivates us; and an understanding of our behaviours, thoughts, values and what is at our core. In other words, it is what defines us as a person. A part of understanding what is at our core is to understand our purpose and what makes our hearts sing. It appears that Mr Trump is doing what makes his heart sing. One example is his passion for dismantling Obamacare and making a difference to the US medical system.

Core to self-awareness and the understanding of our behaviours is to know when we are being triggered; meaning when we experience an emotional response to an external factor in our lives. For example, it appears that often Mr Trump is triggered by the media. The question is whether he recognises and identifies this trigger as his emotional response.

After many years in corporate life, I recognised that when we have repeated emotional responses to something or someone, it normally indicates that a personal value is being crossed or one of our limiting self-beliefs is showing up. We might not be aware of this happening. But if we trace the emotion back to the value or the limiting belief, it becomes more understandable. The question is, whether Mr Trump is self-aware enough to recognise when his buttons are being pushed?

The next part of the definition is connectedness, which is even more interesting in regard to Mr Trump. A prerequisite for connecting to other people, is to have a deep understanding of ourselves first. Without self-awareness, we cannot start the journey to have connected relationships or purpose-driven collaboration with other people. For deeper, meaningful relationships to occur several crucial ingredients need to be in place, including:

  • trust fostered through an unconditional respect for difference;
  • not being afraid to show vulnerability (after all, it is a sign of strength); and
  • learning to suspend judgement of other people.

I am not quite sure that an unconditional respect for difference is being demonstrated by building a wall between the US and Mexico and using every opportunity possible to discredit the former US president in social media. I am on thin ice here, because I truly believe that deeper connected relationships are only forged when we learn to suspend judgement.

The last element of connectedness is purpose-driven collaboration. We are only able to create new purpose-driven relationships and partnerships once we are able to do away with ego-driven, competitive behaviour based on fear and limiting self-beliefs.

When we live a more connected and conscious life, we are able to unlock our authentic POWER, anacronym for:

  • Presence;
  • Overcoming fears;
  • Whole integrated being;
  • Effortless flow; and
  • Resonance.

I walk my talk and therefore, I suggest leaving the final assessment to answer this question to you, the reader. I have an opinion. However, I will focus on my own authentic growth journey, learning to suspend judgement and unconditionally respecting difference, when I believe there is injustice, unfairness or mistreatment involved.

f you are interested in taking your Authenticity Pulse®, please visit the link below.

Small incremental changes lead to big differences

When I went to my last full medical check-up in 2015, I was walking 10,000 steps a day, eating very healthily and feeling on top of my game. However, on the annual anniversary of the check-up in 2016, my angst increased because I had done hardly any exercise during the last year, spending too much time in the office and delivering a challenging cultural change project. I had also started writing my first book and had changed my daily work regime.

However, I had made a few small health changes and I underestimated their beneficial power. I had started to meditate and use a daily gratitude journal after the first check-up.

My typical day now starts with two meditations; Headspace© to focus on my breathing and clear my mind; followed by a guided meditation to pay gratitude to the wonderful people in my life and visualise the type of day I want to have. This takes about twenty minutes in the morning and I do it while the house is still quiet. Some days I only have time for one meditation due to the challenges of my working schedule.

In the evening, I close the day by capturing additional thoughts of gratitude in my daily journal. I focus on at least ten things I am grateful for throughout the day. When I encounter a challenging conversation or incident, I write it down and express my gratitude for the learning, growth and development resulting from it. Sometimes, I skip the journaling at the weekend and after two days I feel a dark, grumpiness settling over me. After writing in my journal I play a recorded meditation, which I normally fall asleep to.

Gone are the days of using Kalms (a natural sleep remedy) to switch my mind off and force me into a dreamy place. It is almost as if the journal provides the necessary closure to the day and allows a more peaceful sleep to take hold of my body.

The cultural change project, I managed in my corporate role and several other coincidences, led me to research the concept of authenticity and I started writing my first book, The Authenticity Dilemma Resolved®published in November 2016, London.However, because I was in a very demanding corporate role as Chief Financial Officer, I had to make the time to write my book. I decided to go to bed earlier in the evening and get up every morning at 5am.

After my ritual meditation, I wrote for 60 to 90 minutes and then got ready and drove to work, which was luckily only a ten-minute car journey away. I managed this new ritual of early to bed and early to rise extremely well. The result was at least seven and a half hours sleep per night, which before had only been a dream.

I absolutely aced the second medical check-up, especially the breathing rhythm test. My body condition was better with no exercise than it had been previously with 10,000 steps a day. The daily meditation and journaling regime and the consistent hours of sleep, had created an unexpected beneficial change, I had not anticipated.

Sometimes, we are surprised to find better well being in the most unexpected places. Small incremental change can have a big impact over time.

Why We Must Change The Way We Lead The Finance Function

This article is co-written by Talita Ferreira and Anders Liu-Lindberg

Last week we explored the history of Finance Transformation. We identified that something is missing in the transformation. What’s missing is the transformation of how we lead the finance function. We can transform systems, processes, and individuals all we want, but if we don’t transform the leaders too, we will never realise the full potential of the transformation. The way leaders lead in Finance must be transformed, and it will not be an easy journey

In fact, it might be the hardest part of the transformation. However, it need not be complex. We’ll introduce you to a model of how to transform leadership in the finance function. Before we do that though, we’ll dig deeper into why the current leadership model is challenged.

The world is changing but has our leadership style changed?

Traditionally, as finance leaders, we have embraced the more analytical right brain activities, the trusted analysis; after all the numbers don’t lie. However, we mentioned in our first article that there are new skills that are required like creativity, emotional intelligence and cognitive flexibility to cope with the challenges of the future and that creativity, collaboration, persuasion, time management and adaptability are the skills that companies are hiring for.

We know that there are already five different generations of employees in the workplace that want and need to be inspired differently. It is our job as leaders to inspire, engage and bring out the best in every individual that works for us, no matter how different they are to us or how difficult that might seem.

But where are we today and what do we see?

Source: ‘The Authenticity Dilemma Resolved®’ by Talita Ferreira

Leaders are normally very focused on themselves; on their careers and their achievements. We observe a lot of ego-based behaviours; wanting to be right or looking who was to blame when something goes wrong, instead of just taking responsibility as the leader and attempting to do better next time.

Sometimes we are driven by our limiting self-beliefs, which we so carefully hidden from the world. We might not feel like we can do a new job effectively, or that we always have the right answers but instead of asking for help or brainstorming with other people, we try to hide the feelings or control situations because we don’t want to be caught out.

Sometimes we have a very competitive nature as finance leaders and want to make sure we can control or plan for every possible scenario – again that we won’t look bad or stand out. We call this state of behaviours “the state of doing”. It can sometimes create this feeling that something is missing, and we live from one holiday to the next. Or we are held back from truly connecting with our business partners and creating relationships based on mutual trust.

Is that really a way to lead?

None of these behaviors are particularly good for leading in todays world and while we likely can’t change our natural tendencies we can certainly manage them in a better way. We need our fuel for leading to come from a different place. We need to be motivated by something else.

If we don’t change we will fail in our leadership and the performance of our teams will suffer. The team will lack engagement as do most teams today and value will be left on the table. That’s why we must dig deeper into how to lead the finance function into the future. Next week we’ll introduce you to the “state of being” model that’ll show us a new path for leading the finance function.

Are you with us so far? Do you believe in the case for change or you think we’re fine the way things are now? We truly encourage discussion on this topic that’s so important for the future of Finance!

Finance Inspired 4 Success powered by Authentic Change Solutions

Becoming an Authentic Leader

Talita Ferreira left the corporate sector after more than 20 years to promote what she believes is missing in leadership today: authenticity. In this article, she explains how it can unleash the potential of leaders and what role the Sustainable Development Goals can play in business.

We need a world where companies are a place for individuals to grow and develop. Where profits are the outcome of passionate people pursuing purpose and amazing partnerships to ensure we are all working for the common greater good, sustaining our planet for the generations to come. 

But how do we achieve this in a world that is over-commercialized, over-commoditized and where financial analysts and shareholders drive companies to pursue ROI (Return on Investment) and EBITDA (Earnings before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization) without thinking about the significant long-term impacts on society, the environment, and the world at large?

Hopefully, we can start to lead the way. Firstly, through pursuing real authenticity everywhere and with everyone. Secondly, through consumers becoming responsible leaders in every aspect of their lives. Finally, by starting to measure business by its contribution to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals and not merely by the profit imperative.

Real authenticity: After spending two decades in corporate life and observing thousands of leaders, I have concluded that real authenticity can only emerge through equal amounts of emotional and social intelligence, being conscious and connected in equal measure.

Consciousness is a deep understanding and awareness of ourselves, what drives us and what motivates us. This aspect includes our behaviors, our set of core values, our passions, and, at the heart of everything, our own individual purpose in this world. Without this deeper understanding of ourselves, it is not possible to connect to other people in a more meaningful way.

Connectedness is what leads us to a higher level of purpose-driven collaboration and true partnership, which elevates us above the ego and fear-based, competitive, control-related behaviors that have become so familiar to us in everyday life.”Connectedness is what leads us to a higher level of purpose-driven collaboration and true partnership.”

For deeper, meaningful relationships to occur, several crucial ingredients need to be in place, including:

  • trust fostered through an unconditional respect for difference;
  • not being afraid to show your vulnerability and realizing that it is rather a strength;
  • learning to suspend judgment of other people; and
  • being brave enough to face your deeper fears.

For too long, we have brought a different version of ourselves to our work than the one living at home with our loved ones. In the current business paradigm, we want to move away from the silo orientation and the command and control hierarchies holding us back from true partnership and from creating something truly greater than ourselves. When we resonate more deeply with ourselves, other people, and our passions, we start to understand the interconnectedness of all things far better; we want to do more for our planet and further our purpose within the world. This connectedness and integration in all aspects of our lives should be fostered within organizations to reduce the impact of stress and increase well-being.

Responsible leaders are passionate and pursue their own and a greater purpose every day. They relish connecting to other people without ego and judgment, with a desire for true inclusion and a greater awareness of the planet. This type of inclusive leader steps back and allows other people to grow into this space. This leader is not afraid to follow and co-create.

As responsible leaders, we become more globally aware of the call to action. We focus on the simple and tiny things we can do to create positive change every day. For example, choosing to buy food or consumables based on their packaging, or choosing to buy products based on the social impact a brand is making, or buying a refillable glass water bottle and carrying it absolutely everywhere to reduce our plastic footprint. Responsible leaders set aside individual glory and think about the greater good: to drive social change; to eliminate inequalities; and to create partnerships unheard of before. They focus on creating the best possible outcomes together. Living as a truly responsible leader in all aspects of our lives might mean that we need to give up some aspects of life as we know it, like privilege and status.”The Sustainable Development Goals should form the new DNA of an organization, encapsulated in every product detail and measured throughout every process.”

Measuring business: Business doing good is not simply supporting social activities or sustainability in the narrow sense. It should include employees working in organizations in the best way suited to them as individuals, to ensure that they excel, grow, and develop, with a high level of motivation. Businesses should be a place for individuals to meet and pursue their individual authenticity (as defined above) and their individual and collective purposes.

As consumers and investors, we should move to measuring companies by their profits and the current sustainability indexes to the extent of an 80% measurement. The other 20% should measure how well they are performing against the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and which partnerships they are forming to pursue these goals. They should form the new DNA of an organization, encapsulated in every product detail and measured throughout every process. Companies that do this will be seen more positively by customers who are striving to be responsible leaders. Wouldn’t it be great if the most successful companies in an industry truly partnered and combined forces to pursue the 17 goals and take action on climate issues or inequality together?

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals should bring together governments, leaders, and business to stand together and work together for our future in a uniquely authentic way. It is time we extended the triple bottom line paradigm of profit, people, and planet to include passion, purpose, and partnership. My hope is that a higher connection to true authenticity and purpose brings us closer to our connection with the planet. We are here for a greater good, to sustain the planet, fulfill our own purpose, and to give back. And we can only achieve this by living in true connectedness and partnership with other responsible and authentic leaders.

Talita Ferreira is a thought leader and change maker who is passionate about living in true authenticity, purpose-driven collaboration, and harnessing diversity of thought. She is the founder and CEO of Authentic Change Solutions.

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Published on: 6 February 2018

CFO’s role in developing authentic cultures and leaders

The world is facing unprecedented challenge and change, often referred to as: Volatile; Uncertain; Complex; and Ambiguous, or VUCA. Recent political decisions have encapsulated this term, with the unexpected outcome of the United States election and the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union. Organisations are no different. Indeed, they are facing unprecedented change and disrupted business models.

The Criticaleye 2017 survey of business leaders in the UK, Creating Winning Leadership Teams in the Age of Disruption, revealed that 95 percent of respondents believe their organisation’s business model is being disrupted; 12 percent believe they have the correct team to adequately face this challenge; and 86 percent believe their leadership team’s focus is on ‘business as usual’ rather than dealing with the disruption itself.

The 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends Report states the number one critical trend as ‘creating the organisation of the future – now’. To adapt to a digitised economy, at the speed and agility required for survival and success, organisations need to be structured as ecosystems and networks designed around customer centricity, products, and services. This means that a radical new approach is needed.

Organisations of the future will be those with individual team members who share purpose and values, empowering and co-ordinating themselves through culture.

To adapt at such a fast pace, leaders and individuals are facing the same challenges as organisations, especially the directors, who sometimes believe they must have all the answers. The development of emergent leaders and cultures is more important than ever before, and CFOs have a leading role to play. A new breed of leader is needed to cope with this challenging set of variables and yet leaders are already under pressure and suffer from working in ‘long hours cultures.’ Indeed, workplace stress has been referred to by the World Health Organisation as the health epidemic of the 21st century.

According to a Gallup survey, The Worldwide Employee Engagement Crisis, Business Journal, January 2016, only 13 percent of the global workforce is totally engaged. This challenge will soon be exacerbated by having five generations in the same organisation, including traditionalists, baby boomers, Gen X, Millennial’s, and Gen Z, all with different behavioural motivators. Are these business and leadership challenges even surmountable with a disengaged workforce?

Finance leaders of the future will need to be able to engage and inspire creativity and unlock the hidden potential in their employees. Traditionally, CFOs have embraced the more analytical right brain activities, the trusted analysis – after all, the numbers don’t lie. I experienced my greatest development challenges when leading HR as part of my first CFO role. I wanted to develop the finance and human resources back office to be partners in the business; to see themselves as business enablers, not merely controllers or administrators, and to help develop and be responsible for growing the organisation’s future leaders. It was only when finance and HR worked together more collaboratively to create more inspiring leadership programmes that we made our mark on the organisation.

A research study by John Getzema and Michael D’Antionio published in their book, The Athena Doctrine, refers to a shift in the traits associated with morality, leadership and happiness. The traits, which were traditionally viewed as feminine, including, collaborative, intuitive and reasonable, are now what respondents correlate with morality, leadership and happiness. Also, there has been a shift away from the traditional masculine traits, such as dominance, aggression and pride.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution Report, World Economic Forum 2016, stated the top ten skills that will be required in 2020. It introduced three surprise contenders: creativity as number three, emotional intelligence as number six, and cognitive flexibility as number ten.

What Google learned from its quest to build the perfect team, New York Times, February 2016, revealed new research about why some teams thrive while others fail. One of the key characteristics of an enhanced team is psychological safety, a shared belief within the team that the individuals are safe to take a risk without negative consequences; a team functioning with real trust at its heart.

Still Moving, Deborah Roland’s new book, based on global research completed in 2015, challenges us to create inner capacities (stillness) as the starting point for leading change in the system around us (moving). She captures the essence of the introspective, internal focus on ourselves as a crucial starting point for driving change. While leading a large cultural transformation project across industries and company boundaries in my previous CFO role, I came to the same conclusion and developed The Authenticity POWER Model®. I published this model in my first book, The Authenticity Dilemma Resolved® November 2016, which captured my more than 22 years of corporate experience working with thousands of leaders.

The Authenticity POWER Model®
= Consciousness + Connectedness; to unlock intuition and purpose
Consciousness (emotional intelligence) = self-awareness + connecting to our inner core
Connectedness (social intelligence) = connected relationships + purpose-driven collaboration

Self-awareness is the state of deep understanding of ourselves. It is having the ability to observe our behaviours, motivations, thoughts, habits, feelings and emotions. For example, when someone is pushing our buttons in the work environment, it is to try and understand why and which limiting self-belief this is activating for us. Or when someone is having a repeated emotional response, it is being able to trace it back to the underlying value being crossed. This was certainly the case for me. Previously, I was unaware of my behaviour patterns and therefore my choice to react with such emotional vigour. I learnt to recognise my behaviour, which set me free because it meant I allowed myself a choice of how to feel and react. 

The ego is the underlying state that might be holding us back from a greater self-awareness.

Connecting to the core is having a deeper understanding of our core values, biases, ethics, passions and purpose. Our purpose is not merely doing a job to be paid a salary and to support the lifestyle we want; it is doing the thing that makes us tick and unlocks our passion. After a long road of self-discovery, I found as a CFO that my passion was helping individuals to grow and develop beyond their own expectations. It manifested in a change of my regular meetings with individual team members. I spent less time discussing targets and objectives and more time understanding what was important to the individual and how I could help them develop and grow further.

Fears and limiting self-beliefs can hold us back from unlocking our greatest purpose. Before we connect with other people or engage with social intelligence effectively, a deep understanding of ourselves is crucial. Without self-awareness, we cannot start the journey of connected relationships or purpose-driven collaboration with other people.

Connected relationships are fostered in trust with unconditional respect for difference. The ability to be brave, not being afraid to carefully show vulnerability – after all, it is a sign of strength – and to have more empathy for our counterparts and to learn to suspend judgement of other people. For example, I became a better CFO when I learnt to put myself in the shoes of the sales director and tried to understand his motivations and behaviours, rather than judge him. This helped me to find pragmatic solutions more focused on the long-term sustainability of the business, as opposed to being a controller and following siloed interests.

Our innate human competitiveness and the desire to be right can hold us back from having a deeper connection with other people, fostering trust and emotional safety.

Purpose-driven collaboration is when we create new purpose-driven relationships and partnerships. This is only possible once we have done away with ego-driven, competitive behaviour based on fear and limiting self-beliefs, and when we stop trying to control every situation. Once we achieve this we will be co-creating in a way where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This is when we are more conscious of ourselves and more connected to other people; when we can truly unlock our inner Authentic POWER. This will lead us to be phenomenal leaders, creating cultures of trust and focusing on developing individuals to become amazing leaders themselves.

Our Authentic POWER shines through all of the following aspects of our lives:
•    Presence; the confidence of knowing who we are;
•    Overcoming fear; and our limiting self-beliefs, which help to us discover the potential behind our greatest fear and creates a;
•    Whole Integrated Being; which allows;
•    Effortless flow; between all the various aspects of our lives; and creates
•    Resonance with purpose. 

Authenticity is the new paradigm, which we need to lead us to authentic cultures with the ability to face the current challenges and transform future organisations. Cultures and companies that are organised for learning, innovation and customer impacts; reacting more like agile networks fuelled by collaboration and knowledge sharing. Where the cornerstone of the high-performing team dynamic is psychological safety and trust. Where the behaviours of individual leaders are aligned to the values and strategy of the organisation. Where employees are highly engaged and willing to give discretionary time or effort to the organisation because they love being there.

Authenticity is the new paradigm, which will help leaders with this new mindset to drive change more effectively once they understand themselves better. Leaders who foster creativity and use the diversity of opinions in their teams to unlock new ways of doing things. Leaders who coach and develop people instead of telling them what to do, moving away from the traditional command and control behaviours. Leaders who cultivate trust and are direct, open and honest, and bring out the best in other people.

Authentic leaders and authentic cultures bring people to their full creativity and unlock their full potential and passion.

The CFO plays a vital role in the process to develop these cultures and leaders; from agreeing to or finding the funding necessary for development, to actively developing future finance leaders and role modelling the much-needed behaviours for the existence of an authentic culture. The CFO always has a choice: to be the holder of the purse strings or the creator of the future.

*Talita Ferreira is the CEO of Authentic Change Solutions Ltd. She is a Chartered Accountant with The Institute of Chartered Accountants for England and Wales (ICAEW), and the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA). She qualified as a Chartered Director in 2013, fellow of the Institute of Directors in 2015, and became a published author in 2016. She was formerly CFO of BMW UK Limited.

Published by: CFO South Africa

Published on: 7 February 2018

Being Brave; facing our darkest fears and finding inner resilience

Being brave – Shutterstock

It was an amazing experience in early February 2018, to be sitting on a leadership panel themed ‘Make 2018 your year to be braver’ at Nutmeg with four inspiring women who were there to talk about how they had been brave. Although we all had very different stories and examples to share, similar threads of wisdom emerged from each of us. We committed to sharing our personal accounts openly and without holding back any details. It made the evening so real and easy to relate to. I was absolutely blown away by the consistency of the underlying message behind being brave.

It started with Nicola, the host and Head of Human Resources for Nutmeg, asking us how we define being brave. The answers ranged from: goingoutside our comfort zone; doing things that we would not have thought possible before; not being afraid to show our vulnerabilities; facing our fears; standing up for what we believe in; and being and showing more of our authentic selves.

We shared who we thought had been brave, as well as our personal stories of bravery. Examples ranged from: a mother standing up for her children around a group of young thugs; parents charting the journey of their sick child openly in social media to help other people; and going from a job in compliance to the confidence to write and deliver stand-up comedy. Further examples, included: a daughter facing her daily fears of a new environment and achieving it with a level of resilience and even enthusiasm; leaving successful, predictable corporate careers to pursuing real passion and purpose or following totally different career paths; and an avid adventurer sharing her bravery and vulnerability on an expedition to climb Mount Everest.

We agreed that while being brave, we conquer the hidden fears we all have. We adjust our lives to fit to the new paradigm and we dream and intend a different or better life. Also, we agreed that the fears are never gone; instead, we have learnt to control them and live with them more easily. We have found ways to cope with our fears, to help boost our inner resilience, including:

  • having supportive people around us to talk to;
  • trying to quiet the negative voices in our head that question whether we can do it;
  • speaking to someone independent with a different perspective, such as a coach or mentor;
  • playing ‘The Expansion Game*’ which exaggerates personal fears to help minimise them; and
  • becoming more introspective, having more time for the self and learning to meditate.

Sometimes, the fears we have and the negative voices in our minds do not serve us. It is important to recognise these voices as mere internal dialogue and not the reality that really faces us. We can talk ourselves down an imaginary staircase, spiralling into a very dark place, or wecan see our greatest fears as an opportunity to unleash our greatest potential. As Jack Canfield the author of Chicken Soup for the Soul’ said, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear”.

In conclusion, we agreed that being brave is facing our fears and limiting self-beliefs and finding a level of resilience to confront these fears, when we encounter them repeatedly. None of us would choose a different journey or have it any other way.

*The Expansion Game; a game to release fears detailed in the recently published, bestselling book ‘The Expansion Game’ by Gosia Gorna, an award-winning, transformational coach and spiritual guru.

Written by: Talita Ferreira

CEO & Founder

Authentic Change Solutions

© Talita Ferreira and Authentic Change Solutions Ltd