Bruna Martinuzzi – How to be a leader during difficult times


Bruna Martinuzzi is the founder of Clarion Enterprises Ltd., specializing in presentation skills training and leadership communication coaching. She has helped thousands of individuals improve their presentation skills and become more effective communicators.

Fluent in six languages, Bruna delivers high quality presentation skills training to international audiences. She has also spoken at numerous events such as the MICROSOFT ExPo Leadership Conferences in the U.S., China and Europe, The TELUS Leadership Forums, and annual conferences in a variety of sectors such as insurance, finance, real estate, technology and human resources. She is a gifted speaker and an engaging facilitator, and her style has been labeled as warm, intellectually stimulating, and dynamic.

runa’s background incorporates 30 years of experience in management and executive leadership positions. She holds a B.A. and a M.A. from the University of British Columbia and is the recipient of several awards, including the Izaak W. Killam Memorial Pre-doctoral Fellowship for three years in a row, the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada Award and the B.C. Workplace Excellence Award For Unusual Innovation. Bruna is a business columnist at American Express Business Trends.


In the past years, the number of burnouts increased drastically. Mostly due to the changes in enterprise culture. How can we cope with it?

Burnout stems from a variety of sources, such as an extreme workload, with no control over hectic schedules imposed by employers. This is exacerbated when employers don’t provide clear expectations and where there is no emotional support at work for employees to vent their feelings and frustrations.

Coping with burnout starts with self-awareness, that is, learning to recognize the symptoms of burnout. On a physical level, symptoms can include extreme fatigue, exhaustion, insomnia, and headaches. On a psychological level, chronic burnout leads to low morale, depression, emotional exhaustion, irritation, and feelings of anger or bitterness. For some, it could be apathy and a sense of futility.

It’s crucial for employees to understand when they are overcommitted and to speak up and ask for help. Practicing self-care by following a regimen of proper nutrition, physical exercise, meditation, and relaxation techniques are essential. It also helps to strengthen your emotional support outside of work.

Are there, now, aspects, a leader needs to learn?

Good leadership skills are crucial at any time, and especially so during times of crisis. Two areas, in particular, are vital to helping employees cope with today’s unprecedented challenges.

Empathy: In these stressful times, leaders need to strengthen their ability to empathize with others. As a leader, make yourself available to employees and make it safe for people to speak up and voice their concerns. Empathic leaders strive to understand the impact that the pandemic has on their employees’ life and that of their family. They need to show that they support their employees’ well-being, such as adjusting goals and deadlines, allowing for flexible schedules, and making mental health resources available. Leaders also need to remind themselves that their moods are contagious. They should manage their own negative moods so that they don’t infect employees and cause more anxiety.


Communication skills: It’s incumbent on leaders to sharpen their communication skills during the pandemic.  People need their leaders to show inner clarity, conviction, and deliberate calm. Providing frequent updates for people is critical, so is transparent communication. Transparent communication means giving people accurate and honest information. Don’t sugarcoat the bad news. Open and direct communication engenders trust and prevents people from possibly filling voids with rumours and inaccurate information. At the same time, accentuate the positives and inspire people to see that tomorrow is better than today.


How can a leader today become authentic?

To be viewed as authentic, leaders need to practice what I call behavioural authenticity. That is, do what you say you will do. An authentic leader is, above all, a promise-keeper. This applies to even the smallest of promises. We can rely on the word of such a person. To be authentic, ask yourself what promises you made, to whom.  Are you keeping your word? If not, get back to people to explain the changing circumstances that may have prevented you from following through on your promises.


What are the “leaves” of authenticity?

My book, The Leader as a Mensch: Become the Kind of Person Others Want to Follow, is organized around the metaphor of a tree. The roots are humility, authenticity, and empathy. The trunk comprises our accountability, our optimism, and our comportment as a leader. And the branches represent our moods, our generosity, and our appreciation of others. Each chapter is followed by leaves. These are practical tips or strategies that can help leaders practice the behaviours of leaders worth following.

Here are three examples of what I call the “leaves of authenticity:”

  1. There is real freedom when we shed all affectation. Are there times in your life when you see yourself being forced to put on a show to make an impression on others? Resolve to stop that, once and for all. Watch yourself soar when you are unencumbered by the weight of pretense. Tell yourself, “I am enough” – and mean it.
  2. Straight talk, self-confidence, and simplicity – these are the building blocks of substance; the triumph over image. Think about how you can make these a daily habit.
  3. Are there areas in your life where you might lack consistency without intending to? For example, are you kind to some people, but not to others? Are you completely truthful in some circumstances, but not in others? What does this insight tell you?


Elisa Cutullè


For Italian version of the interview please click here

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