The Opinions

Masks Off

Enterprises and leaders need just one filter – authenticity – in thought, action, and reaction, to break silos and the ‘us versus them’ narrative with their audience.

We’ve all seen it.

Companies pretending to be something they’re not, leaders who say one thing and do another. 

In today’s fast-paced, hyper-connected world, it can be tempting for brands and leaders to try to please everyone, to appeal to as broad an audience as possible. But this often dilutes the message and leads to a failure to connect with anyone. 

Whether it’s a company claiming to be environmentally friendly while secretly engaging in harmful practices, or a leader who talks about equality but doesn’t walk the talk, it’s easy for audiences to spot insincerity. 

And when they do, the result is a breakdown in trust. They become more likely to turn away from the brand or individual and more likely to spread negative word-of-mouth.

Vladimir Putin’s leadership as the President of Russia is a stark example of the dangers of inauthenticity in leadership. 

Putin has been accused of using propaganda and manipulating the media to maintain his hold on power. He has also faced criticism for suppressing dissent, cracking down on political opposition, and his involvement in conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

At the heart of these allegations is the charge that Putin is not transparent or accountable and appears to prioritize his interests over those of the Russian people. 

This lack of authenticity has seriously affected the country and contributed to a lack of trust in Putin and his leadership. 

Inauthentic leadership can have far-reaching adverse effects, whether at the national or corporate level. 

Authenticity is not always easy; it means being genuine, taking risks, and making difficult decisions. But in the long run, it pays off.

Use case:

One brand that has exemplified authenticity in recent years is Nike.

In 2018, the company released an ad featuring former NFL player Colin Kaepernick with the tagline, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” 

This ad sparked controversy and backlash, but Nike stood by its message and values, even as some called for a boycott of the company.

As a result of this authenticity, Nike saw a 31% increase in online sales in the days following the ad’s release, and the brand’s reputation and brand loyalty only grew stronger. Nike took a stand, which paid off because it was true to itself and its values.

Authenticity is the one filter that brands and leaders must embrace to build trust, break through the noise, and truly connect with their audience. 

By being genuine and transparent and taking a stand on issues that matter to them, they can break down silos and the “us versus them” narrative and create meaningful connections with their audience. In today’s divisive world, authenticity has never been more critical.

Siddharth Vaze, Ideosphere.