Leading with Authenticity in a Changing World

Leading with Authenticity in a Changing World was originally published on Forbes.com.

It’s no secret that Covid-19 has changed the world and altered the way we do business, go about our daily lives and connect with people. But, as we acclimate and adapt to the next normal, how can the important elements of leadership migrate, translate and evolve in this new world to ensure business longevity and success?

Neal Stanton, Ramp Co-CEO

Managing change requires leaders to focus simultaneously on overseeing the business and providing effective leadership. Yet more often than not, the latter plays second fiddle because business operations seem all-consuming. Now, more than ever, a focus on leading people through transformation, while maintaining authenticity throughout the process, is critical to keeping our teams engaged and motivated.

To effectively lead an organization during times of significant change, leaders need to work harder at honing their authenticity. Doing so will help them build a culture of trust wherein the demands of both the business and the people can be met.

Here are a few tips for leading with authenticity in uncertain times and afterward:

Say what you mean and mean what you say

In turbulent times, many leaders avoid sharing difficult truths. They sometimes offer false encouragement while asking others to deliver more difficult messages. Yet in trying situations, it’s even more important for leaders to have straightforward and truthful conversations, communicate early and often, and follow through on what we tell our employees and the market.

Show your true colors

Leading with authenticity also means showing your personality. Help your employees, customers, partners and the market get to know you — not just your business persona — better. Being authentic can also mean being much more real with your teams. When your key constituents see you as relatable and human, it can create an environment of mutual respect where people want to follow your lead. Of course, showing your true colors at work doesn’t mean you should lose your professionalism, which must underscore everything you do. You can be real and still be respectful.

Use your platform

As C-level executives, we are provided a platform from which we can communicate. Spread the word about what you’ve learned, experiences that make a difference in business and endeavors that help to better the world in which we live. By using the channels available to us to communicate what we are passionate about, we can help call attention to important topics and activities that can drive change for the better.

Create meaningful connections

The pandemic has altered the way we communicate. The in-person meetings, events and other avenues we once used to create more personal connections have been cut off. So, video has become the go-to for communicating because it’s one of the best ways to make a connection when you can’t be together in person. It’s become the mainstay of keeping our teams aligned. 

While many of us were already using video, we are now doing so at a vastly different scale. The reality is that video has become part of the core business culture for many companies. Having the right video strategy in place is critical to your success. This includes using the right technologies (such as video systems, networking and infrastructure) delivering the right message and content to your employees (at the right time), and leading by example by using video any time you can. 

Home in on your authenticity

Being an authentic leader is a significant element of our ability to successfully run the business and maintain a solid level of trust with our teams, but authenticity doesn’t always come naturally. It’s a skill, like many others, that requires practice and ongoing revisions to avoid weakening over time. Taking a conscious approach to your leadership style and working to demonstrate your personal brand authentically to your employees and others can be the key to positioning your business for success during the pandemic and into the future.