Authenticity: A Positive Leadership Trait for the Post-Pandemic World

Throughout the pandemic we have tallied our losses, from layoffs, closed businesses, and broken social connections to illness and death. But what have we gained during this time?

It’s hard to think in these terms, but there have been positive changes. At work, skeptical managers now see that people can work productively from a home office. People have gotten countless hours of their lives back by eliminating their commute. We’ve adapted quickly to feeling natural and working effectively in online meetings.

Many of us have been able to spend more time with our children and families. We know people who have developed new interests, and re-connected with college classmates and widely dispersed friends in ways that would have never happened before the pandemic.

One of the things that we hope stays with us as people go back to offices and a sense of normalcy returns is the increased authenticity we have seen during the pandemic.

Part of being authentic is the ability to empathize with others — for more read Arden Coaching’s blog, “Authentic Leadership and the Practice of Empathy.” Another element of authenticity is a willingness to drop your mask and put yourself out there in a way that is honest and genuine.

When you are “doing business” sitting in your own home, people can see personal items in the background that you care about, from collectible ceramics or a passion for baking, to books and bowling trophies. When you wear your favorite Zoom sweater, when your CEO wears a polo shirt, or your CFO lets their hair go naturally gray, there’s a degree of authenticity — of allowing our real selves to be seen by others — that did not exist before the pandemic. (For more, read “Discover Your Behavioral Authenticity,” by Arden executive coach Vanessa Tennyson, and a related blog by Arden executive coach Sharon Krohn, “Maximizing Executive Presence in the Virtual Space.”)

People like this! They respond positively to it. There’s a level of comfort and trust that comes with authenticity. There is a vulnerability that people value and appreciate when someone lets them see their basement office nook, or hear their child or dog in the background. And, from a neuroscience perspective, it’s good for your brain to practice looking for positive things, including positive things that have come out of the pandemic.

We hope this level of vulnerable authenticity is a permanent characteristic of leadership in the post-pandemic world.

To learn more about strengthening your leadership skills and practicing authentic leadership, contact the executive coaches at Arden Coaching at [email protected] or 646.684.3777.