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At Novartis, authentic leadership is important as they strive for innovation to address some of society´s most challenging healthcare issues.

Authentic leaders reinvent themselves and their organizations to address the emotional and social demands of their followers and clients while staying true to their authentic self.

I was invited to speak to a group of managers at Novartis in Barcelona. It was a pleasure to learn more about a truly authentic organization that is never satisfied with the status quo and whose mission is: “To discover new ways to improve and extend people´s lives.”

Here are three ways or the 3 Hs model—Heart, Habit, and Harmony—that I had shared with the Novartis managers, which speaks about how authentic leaders lead positive transformations, in my new book “Yours Truly“:

Follow your Heart with Humility

Authentic people always feel good about themselves. They live by their own standards and seem to choose and create contexts that fit their personal strengths.

They follow their passion with humility. Humble leaders improve the performance of a company in the long run by creating more collaborative environments.

They have a balanced view of themselves—about both their virtues and shortcomings—and have a strong appreciation for others’ strengths and contributions.

Happiness and humility is contagious. Humble leaders help those around them build their self-esteem, exceed expectations, and create a community that channels individual efforts into an organized group working for the good of the collective.

Practice the Habit of Learning

How do leaders grow and still stay true to their authentic selves? Authentic leaders flourish after adversities, building resilience with a combination of optimism, positive relationships, and mental toughness.

In this process of growth and learning, they become aware of what is really important in business and life. It is when facing crucible challenges that personal and professional growth becomes more noticeable.

I shared with the Novartis group the story of Angel Ruiz, the CEO of Ericson in North America. Angel developed a leadership style based on moral values and an internal locus of control, which gave him extraordinary mental strength when faced with organizational challenges, such as downsizing. It was his mental strength that was critical in winning his battle with cancer and keeping him focused and optimistic.

Live in Harmony with Others

In the end, the core challenge of authenticity is to realize one’s inner desires, in harmony with others.

Leadership scholars have spent a great deal of time studying authentic leaders, for the simple reason that they have moral standards and values that emphasize the collective interest of their groups or organizations within a greater society.

These values are known as “self-transcendent” and include the values of benevolence (concern for immediate others) and universalism (concern for the welfare of all people). PERI is a great example of an authentic organization. One of the world´s largest manufacturers of formwork and scaffolding, PERI illustrates how leader´s authenticity can help spread values throughout an organization worldwide, creating an identity in the process.

I thank Novartis for giving me the opportunity to speak to such a positive group!!

Margarita Mayo

I´m Margarita Mayo. I´ve been a Professor of Leadership and Psychology at IE Business School since 2000. Prior to that I was a Fulbright scholar at Harvard University and professor at Ivey Business School. I feel passionate about scientific dissemination, and I have more than 20 years of international experience teaching courses on soft skills, giving keynote conferences and coaching executives on leadership development and change management. Always eager to help develop the next generation of leaders.

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