Don’t get sucked into the authenticity vacuum

Like millions of other people, I loved Olivia Colman’s Oscars speech. She babbled, she cried a bit. She even blew a raspberry for god’s sake. It’s impossible not to admire her for it.

Why? Authenticity and humility are the comms equivalent of M&S food porn.

There’s no doubt about it authenticity is sexy AF, but there’s a serious side to it too. Studies show that humble CEOs make better leaders and create more successful organisations. So surely everyone’s out there ‘leaning in’ to humility? Wrong. The world hasn’t changed. If anything we’re seeing an authenticity vacuum bookended by sometimes grotesque examples of arrogance and belligerence from people who are old enough to know better.



Just look at this vacuum. Get sucked in at your peril… Photo by justin beck on Unsplash

So why are leaders and brands getting sucked into the authenticity vacuum? Because they’re shitting themselves. Shitting themselves about what happens if they get something wrong, shitting themselves about whether investors will perceive their vulnerability as weakness, shitting themselves that they’ll accidentally offend swathes of vicious internet trolls.

In addition to soiling themselves at the thought of showing weakness, the corporate world is so busy talking about creativity, innovation and change management they’re forgetting to pay any thought to their emotional core. Even now creating an emotional bond is still seen as a communications issue not a business one.

It’s 2019: showing your customers and followers who you are is at least — if not more — important as telling them what you sell.

Fear not though. There is an upside to the authenticity vacuum.

People are craving authenticity, but it’s rare and difficult to find. So the rules of supply and demand dictate that there’s an opportunity for people with the courage to be authentic, honest and humble to make their mark just by being themselves.

The space for leaders, brands and influencers that think and act with humility is wide open. So don’t get sucked in, take a stand, and be more Olivia Colman.

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