By Chet Kapoor, Chairman and CEO, DataStax\n\n\n\nEveryone has a point of view on leadership. There are tons of books, articles, and case studies with frameworks for becoming a great leader. These resources can absolutely help you find inspiration and hone your perspective, but here is the truth: There is no perfect model.\n\nAfter 20+ years in tech and speaking with leaders from many of the world's most recognized brands and fastest-growing startups, I\u2019ve learned that the most important thing about leadership is: Be yourself.\n\nHere, I\u2019ll share a few tips to help you uncover your authentic leadership style.\n\n Start by leading yourself\n\nThe first step for anyone who wants to become a leader is to \u201clead yourself\u201d first. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What are your values? Where do you find meaning and inspiration? What do you believe in more deeply than anything? If you can answer these questions, you\u2019ll be on your way to uncovering your authentic style.\n\nHari Moorthy, Co-Chief Operating Officer, Goldman Sachs Platform Solutions, is not just a world-class technologist \u2014 he\u2019s also a lifelong meditator. In a recent conversation, he explained how mindfulness has helped shape his journey. \u201cIn every one of our minds, there is a constant chatter that goes on. Just listening to that, understanding what your inner mind says, goes a long way,\u201d Hari said. \u201cIt's the foundation of how we come to peace with ourselves and how we start listening to others.\u201d\n\nAs you listen to your thoughts, internalize your values, and develop strong convictions, you will find yourself leading in a way that comes naturally. You\u2019ll demonstrate meaning in the unique way you find meaning. You\u2019ll communicate values in the way you understand them. And you\u2019ll build trust the way you trust yourself and others.\n\nHave hard conversations\n\nListening to your inner voice is crucial, but you will also learn a LOT about yourself through having hard conversations. When faced with an uncomfortable situation \u2014 whether you\u2019re sharing negative feedback, navigating conflict, or discussing personal issues \u2014 are you empowered to communicate your perspective or worried about what other people might think? Are you open to listening when others share their PoV, or do you tend to be defensive or dismissive? Do you search for solutions that benefit the whole team or just yourself?\n\nAuthor and leadership coach Jennifer Edwards is a pro at helping people handle hard conversations. \u201cWe never know what the person in front of us really has going on, and most of us wear brave faces,\u201d she said. \u201cIf there's one thing I believe we have to bring to any conversation, it\u2019s care. It's time for some radical compassion, to understand that people are not actively trying to be unhappy. They just might be stuck.\u201d\n\nStill, we all have blind spots and bad days. So, what happens when a hard conversation gets tense and emotions start running high?\n\n\u201cIf you get absolutely triggered or hijacked, there are two ways to unstick yourself. One is to give yourself some space, breathe, and get perspective as quickly as possible. And the second is to acknowledge it publicly to the people you're with and ask for a timeout to regain your thinking,\u201d Jennifer shared.\n\nHaving hard conversations helps us make informed decisions, solve tough problems, and understand others. If you are willing to embrace the discomfort of these moments, you will grow to be more open-minded, humble, and compassionate. The more you practice, the more you will learn about your strengths and weaknesses. Let this self-awareness inform how you want to lead others.\n\nKnow your gaps\n\nNo matter how smart you are or how long you\u2019ve been in the business, there will always be things you don\u2019t know. When you\u2019re facing a problem at work that you don\u2019t have the answer to, just admit it. It\u2019s okay to tell your team, \u201cI don\u2019t know the answer yet, but I\u2019m confident we\u2019ll find one.\u201d This is not weakness \u2014 it\u2019s humility. And it creates a positive feedback loop, where your honesty helps others feel safe being their authentic selves, too.\n\nKnowing what you don\u2019t know can also be a huge inspiration for continuous learning. PayPal CTO Sri Shivananda said, \u201cI feel like each year stretches me as a person, stretches me as a professional. You feel less knowledgeable each year you grow \u2014 but that becomes a fire, a compelling force to learn.\u201d\n\nThere will always be vastly more things that you don\u2019t know than things you do know. Try to see this as a gift. It\u2019s an opportunity to learn and grow, build a safe environment, and inspire others to be the best version of themselves.\n\nIt\u2019s a journey\n\nEvery person is on a journey to find their true self, whether they know it or not. Sometimes it takes a few years and sometimes it takes a whole lifetime \u2014 but we are always evolving and growing.\n\nIf you want to be a leader, just remember the most important thing is to be yourself. Start by looking inward. Then, externalize your values and be open to learning as you earn the right to lead others.\n\n\n\nLearn more about DataStax here.\n\nAbout Chet Kapoor:\n\nChet is Chairman and CEO of DataStax. He is a proven leader and innovator in the tech industry with more than 20 years in leadership at innovative software and cloud companies, including Google, IBM, BEA Systems, WebMethods, and NeXT. As Chairman and CEO of Apigee, he led company-wide initiatives to build Apigee into a leading technology provider for digital business. Google (Apigee) is the cross-cloud API management platform that operates in a multi- and hybrid-cloud world. Chet successfully took Apigee public before the company was acquired by Google in 2016. Chet earned his B.S. in engineering from Arizona State University.