Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Authenticity In Business Matters More Than Ever—Here’s Why

When the people you lead feel like you’ve been through the same challenges, it fosters deeper connections and makes you more trustworthy.

How do you prove you’re genuinely authentic, especially in the current business environment? This might sound silly, but it’s a common conundrum for executives.

At its core, authenticity is about being relatable. When the people you lead feel like you’ve been through the same experiences they face — like working from home with kids — it fosters deeper connections and makes you more trustworthy.

Unfortunately, becoming more relatable doesn’t come naturally to everyone in the C-suite, and the added obstacle of leading from home doesn’t help. We can’t all be like Apple CEO Tim Cook, who openly discusses his weaknesses and takes responsibility for the company’s missteps. Some may consider this kind of behavior a sign of vulnerability or weakness, but that line of thinking is precisely what makes most executives seem so unapproachable.

According to a 2018 report by Edelman, only 48% of U.S. respondents trust businesses — down 10 percentage points since 2017. The 2019 version of the same report showed that respondents increasingly defined credibility based on relatability. Taken together, these insights suggest that people can’t relate to companies if they don’t find them credible. As a result, there’s a lack of trust.

Faceless executives are partly to blame for this erosion of confidence, but they can drive the solution. No one is better equipped to demonstrate how authentic an organization is (first to employees and then to customers) than the person in the top spot.

Now more than ever, executives need to be honest and empathetic. Leaders who strike the right balance between the two qualities aren’t just relatable, they’re inspiring. If you’re ready to become a more open, authentic executive while fostering a closer connection with those around you — even in a remote work environment — try these strategies:

1. Be available. You might not be with your employees in person, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be “with” them. Set aside a block of time each day when you’re accessible to your team, whether that’s by hosting Zoom video meetings or starting a new Slack channel. Those small interactions will reassure employees during these uncertain times and help you build stronger relationships.

2. Start conversations. When was the last time you talked to a co-worker about something besides work? If it’s been a while, they probably can’t relate to you on a personal level. Make it a point to bring up things other than the next deadline: kids, pets, hobbies, etc. Anything that demonstrates you’re more than a boss will make you appear more relatable and approachable.

3. Meet with everyone. Be careful about singling out and interacting solely with certain employees—everyone needs your attention at this time. Avoid the appearance of favoritism by reaching out to every team member, especially those who are less vocal on your messaging platform or during videoconferences. Remember that employees want to be seen and heard as much as you do. Being genuine and present with all associates will help them feel valued, heard and like they belong.

It’s human nature to work harder for leaders you like and believe in, which makes a compelling case for authenticity. When employees put their full efforts into an organization, customers notice. The most effective way to elevate your bottom line could be as simple as breaking out of your bubble.


  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events


    Strategic Planning Workshop

    1:00 - 5:00 pm

    Over 70% of Executives Surveyed Agree: Many Strategic Planning Efforts Lack Systematic Approach Tips for Enhancing Your Strategic Planning Process

    Executives expressed frustration with their current strategic planning process. Issues include:

    1. Lack of systematic approach (70%)
    2. Laundry lists without prioritization (68%)
    3. Decisions based on personalities rather than facts and information (65%)


    Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison have put together an afternoon workshop that will provide the tools you need to address these concerns.  They have worked with hundreds of executives to develop a systematic approach that will enable your team to make better decisions during strategic planning.  Steve and Denise will walk you through exercises for prioritizing your lists and steps that will reset and reinvigorate your process.  This will be a hands-on workshop that will enable you to think about your business as you use the tools that are being presented.  If you are ready for a Strategic Planning tune-up, select this workshop in your registration form.  The additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    New York, NY: ​​​Chief Executive's Corporate Citizenship Awards 2017

    Women in Leadership Seminar and Peer Discussion

    2:00 - 5:00 pm

    Female leaders face the same issues all leaders do, but they often face additional challenges too. In this peer session, we will facilitate a discussion of best practices and how to overcome common barriers to help women leaders be more effective within and outside their organizations. 

    Limited space available.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $495 will be added to your total.

    Golf Outing

    10:30 - 5:00 pm
    General’s Retreat at Hermitage Golf Course
    Sponsored by UBS

    General’s Retreat, built in 1986 with architect Gary Roger Baird, has been voted the “Best Golf Course in Nashville” and is a “must play” when visiting the Nashville, Tennessee area. With the beautiful setting along the Cumberland River, golfers of all capabilities will thoroughly enjoy the golf, scenery and hospitality.

    The golf outing fee includes transportation to and from the hotel, greens/cart fees, use of practice facilities, and boxed lunch. The bus will leave the hotel at 10:30 am for a noon shotgun start and return to the hotel after the cocktail reception following the completion of the round.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $295 will be added to your total.