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6 steps to become a better leader

Leadership skills are complex and fluid. They don’t only require reflection, dedication, and time to master but they also adapt to the shifts in both society and economics, meaning that what you learn about leadership today, might lose relevance in the near future.

Laura Fariello, Head of Circularity and Sustainable Solutions at Wien Energie, Austria's largest energy supplier, serving two million customers, shares her insights on what it takes in our ever-evolving world to be a good leader.

birgit rechberger-krammer

"Being a great leader comes down to knowing who you are at your inner core, being your most authentic, honest self." - Laura Fariello

1. establish your value-based foundation

Your personal values can and should reflect on your leadership style.

Laura explores and defines her individual value-based foundation for sustained leadership by reflecting on questions like:

  • What are my principles as a leader?

  • What are the core values that I consider non-negotiable?

“Having established such a value-based foundation provided me direction to navigate better situations of challenge and resistance, which are now inherent to my vision of green transformation.”

Laura also adds that good leaders avoid shortcuts that offer success at the expense of their personal philosophy. “Be consistent with your values,” she says.

💡Put it in practice right away: grab a pen or open your note-taking app and answer the questions of Laura to reflect on your value-based foundation.

2. focus on your talents

To become a better leader, focus on improving in the areas where you naturally excel—those activities that bring you joy, as joy often leads to mastery. Remember, good leaders don't need to know everything; it's impossible to be perfect at everything, and that's okay.

Rather than trying to master all skills, focus on your talents and pour the energy into tasks where you can also receive back the invested energy.

As Laura beautifully put it, “Being a great leader comes down to knowing who you are at your inner core, being your most authentic, honest self. Learn your abilities and limitations and make choices that play to your strengths. Stop apologizing for the fire inside you. Instead, use it to light the way.”

💡Put it in practice right away: Remember, joy brings mastery. What brings you joy in your professional life? Start high-level and break it down to the smallest things and tasks you work on.

3. adopt a purpose-oriented mindset

Being a good leader is also about knowing your “why” and owning it.

Laura adopted a purpose-oriented mindset by developing a better understanding of herself and her inner purpose.

“Finding answers to questions like: Why am I doing the work I do? Why am I pushing for a sustainable tomorrow? gave me a chance to self-reflect in a deeper way than I would ordinarily do. Being fully clear of and in sync with my purpose aligned my heart and mind and enables me to drive and lead even more effectively today.”

💡Put it in practice right away: If you’re in the right mind space for a short reflection exercise, grab a pencil or open your note-taking app, pause, and reflect deeply on the following questions:

  • Why am I doing the work I do?

  • What is my higher purpose?

Tip: try to move beyond the layer you usually encounter when answering such questions. Consider how much of a role external and internal expectations play in your life. How did society influence your purpose, what underlying beliefs that you might hold about yourself influence you? What can you do today to answer the questions as deeply and as objectively as you possibly can?

3. learn from role-models

As we all navigate life in power structures that favor conventional leadership, it might be tough to find role models who lead in line with our values. Nevertheless, if we pay close attention to our needs, connect with the people who deliberately practice leadership, and acknowledge there’s always potential for growth, our leadership skills will continue to improve.

Laura learned this from a close connection of hers: “The person who influenced me most in my leadership style was my late mother. Through her, I could witness the power and dignity of living a life of quiet leadership and achievement. Her actions showed me that leadership is not a title or a position but a mindset and an ongoing practice (“you are what you practice”) something I profoundly admired. I strive to live up to her legacy in how I treat others, inspire, and create a culture of trust and collaboration.”

💡Put it in practice right away: Who are your role models? What can you do within the next 5 minutes to establish a stronger connection with them? Is it inviting them for a coffee date? Asking for quick feedback on a task you have completed but wanted it to be better? Get out of your comfort zone and reach out to your role model, thoughtfully.

4. leverage collaboration and inclusiveness

As the saying goes, if you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together. That saying has enhanced validity for intersectionally marginalized groups, such as women with disabilities, with migrational backgrounds, or people of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Laura highlights that “in the pursuit of a sustainable and resilient future we need to develop a new generation of diverse leaders, where no one is left behind. Throughout my life, I developed a deep feeling of responsibility towards women, people with migration and socially underprivileged backgrounds as well as those belonging to marginalized groups.”

To leverage collaboration and inclusiveness Laura suggests to grow into the leader our younger self would have needed the most: “I aim to be the person I so desperately needed when I was younger.”

💡Put it in practice right away: Check in with your biases and privileges. What can you learn today to understand the lives and limitations of marginalized groups better?

5. act out of a space of responsibility

Adults bear responsibility for their own lives. However, leaders must broaden this definition, taking responsibility not only for themselves but also for their teams and communities. Acting selflessly, they should strive to create a society where everyone can thrive, regardless of their privileges.

Laura exemplifies this expanded sense of responsibility. From an early stage in her career, her personal and professional experiences shaped her commitment to sustainable change. She reflects, “They have instilled in me a deep feeling of responsibility to find answers to the world’s most imminent problems, like decarbonization, through commercially viable and profitable solutions. It has also encouraged me to advocate for diversity beyond the gender agenda.”

💡Put it in practice right away: Google the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations and reflect on which area is the closest to your heart. Which is the one where you can contribute the most?

6. inspire the people around you

Inspiration is a powerful concept in leadership. It's about igniting passion and purpose in others. When leaders inspire, they encourage everyone else to be their most authentic selves. By sharing your enthusiasm, dedication, and values, you can motivate others to reach their full potential.

As Laura reflects, “thinking about some of the great thought leaders who have influenced me the most on my leadership journey is probably Simon Sinek.

His quote “The value of a true leader is not measured by the work they do, but by the work they inspire others to do” resonates a lot with me. Simon Sinek takes a very inspirational approach to vision-driven leadership.

As leaders, our role is to empower and motivate others to be the best versions of themselves while challenging traditional paradigms and igniting a new understanding of what it means to lead effectively by placing purpose and values at the forefront. This is what I try to put into practice every day. You are what you practice, right?”

💡So put it in practice right away: Remember, with everything you do, you shape your immediate environment and co-create the dynamics of your communities.

What is one simple thing you can start doing to make people feel better around you, thereby encouraging them to leave their immediate environment in a better mental space than before interacting with you?

about Laura Fariello:

Laura Fariello is Head of Circularity and Sustainable Solutions at Wien Energie, a major utilities company in Austria. Her mission is to re-invent and reshape a conventional energy company into a sustainable utility player through the development and implementation of green tech solutions.

Laura has lived and worked in more than 20 countries, speaks 5 languages fluently, and spent her maternity leave as a Harvard Master's student. Her curiosity and dedication set the example of an outstanding leader.

about Wien Energie:

Two million people, 230,000 trade and industrial customers as well as 4,500 agricultural businesses rely on Wien Energie – Austria’s largest energy provider. 

Wien Energie offers its customers reliable as well as innovative services. Their services include environmentally friendly power, cooling, heating, electromobility, and telecommunications.


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