Many of us grew up with the common belief that great leaders are decisive, clever, results-oriented, and sometimes heartless individuals. It seemed that all that counted to these driven people was the bottom line; all that mattered was winning. Indeed, some leaders out there still adhere to this model.
While the appropriate allocation of resources and a focus on cash flow are essential to running a functioning business, employees are looking for leaders that believe in more than the bottom line.
Modern Leadership Is Breaking Through
The concept of leadership is rapidly evolving into a new model. Paradoxically, advances in digital technology are accelerating as tyrannical governments and fear-based business practices are collapsing. Social networking and other high-speed media are throwing a harsh light on the darker, narcissistic side of leadership.
At a time when traditional and social media are outing leaders’ insufferable practices, true leaders can leverage video to show they are the kind of person others actually want to follow. On the most basic level, it’s good for business. People won’t want to go to your school, work for you, invest in your company, or do anything else you might ask of them if they don’t see you as someone they can trust and want to follow.
But the advantages run much deeper than your bottom line. By being your true self on camera, you become a living example of a leader who cares about how her organization affects the world. Open communication shows you care about your people, your work, and your mission. Why would anyone want to follow you if you didn’t lead with such heart? Would you want to align yourself with someone who didn’t seem to care about the people, the work, the bigger picture? Most people don’t. They want to follow real leaders who care about the integrity of their work.
Building Your Legacy Every Day
You build your legacy every time you go on camera. Journalists, thought-leaders, and even historians interested in your leadership, your company, or your approach to business will be looking to these digital signposts. I was recently speaking with the head of HR at a major tech company, and she was remarking at how companies like Apple, Google, and Cisco were much better known than her company. I pointed out that they’re better known because they’re constantly telling their story, and because of that, people gradually came to learn what those companies stand for.
This is true for any organization. Each time you connect with your tribe, they start to understand what kind of company they’ll be doing business with, what kind of investment they’ve made, and whether or not they want to work with you.
Being true to yourself allows you to be real every time you go on camera. It creates an environment where people really can—and want to—follow you. The virtuous circle flows through your company and through every person your company touches.
Imagine a world where people are transparent and true. I’m not talking about being soft or touchy-feely—just forthright and honest. If every business in the world were like that, wouldn’t the world be a better place? Couldn’t we change the world together? It all starts in that journey to authenticity that allows you to be the best you can be on camera.
I once studied with a wise, legendary acting teacher who told me, “Vern, you’ll never have more in your art than you have in your life.” As I’ve reflected on this idea over the years, I’ve realized this is as true in business as it is in art. The businesses you lead will never have more in them than you have in your life.
Look at the most successful and beloved leaders versus those who were eventually found to be gaming the system. Those who showed who they are—on and offscreen—and lived those values through everyone they met, are the ones who truly went on to change the world.