How to Make an Authentic Leadership Video

An authentic leadership video reveals vulnerability.
Authentic leadership is vulnerable. Photo by Shinsuke Ikegame/CC BY

You want to make an authentic leadership video? Good for you!

If you’re familiar with my company and our approach, you may already know that I’m a huge believer in the Founder Story Video. When they’re done well, these personal mini documentaries can establish deep trust and credibility for a leader.

A founder story video is just one type of authentic leadership video. If you’re in some type of leadership role in your organization and your aim is to communicate a reassuring message of safety and stewardship toward the people you lead, here’s how to make sure your video hits the mark:

Throw away the talking points.

Nothing communicates inauthenticity and lack of genuine confidence like parroting bullet points from the company PR manual or, God forbid, using a teleprompter. It doesn’t matter if those bullet points were originally conceived from an authentic place. It doesn’t matter if it’s you that’s reciting them. It doesn’t even matter if you sincerely agree with them. When the words you’re saying aren’t coming directly from your heart, people know, and they won’t trust you. It won’t matter whether they understand why they don’t trust you; they just won’t.

Instead, use your authentic leadership video as an opportunity to get yourself excited about what you have to say.

Your enthusiasm will be infectious. Don’t worry – I’m not suggesting you broadcast an unedited stream of consciousness to your entire team. At Concurrent Productions, we engage our interviewee in an extended, reciprocal conversation for as long as it takes them to forget about the cameras and relax. Then, we create the final narrative from the most compelling and authentic moments in the footage. This is curation, not manipulation.

Leave out superfluous information, but be open-minded about how you’re willing to present yourself in front of your team. In fact…

Don’t be perfect.

You’re still learning. Be open about that. For your team, there’s no reassurance in the idea that you’re infallible. In fact, trying to present yourself as smarter, more powerful, or more righteous than you really are will come across as obvious and only communicate insecurity. Insecure leaders cause followers to fear for their jobs. Fearful followers produce fearful work and make customers feel uneasy.

Instead, reveal flaws and vulnerabilities.

Think about what builds trust in non-professional relationships. I trust a person who tells me something I could use to hurt them or make fun of them. I trust people who do that because I know that in doing so, they’re signaling to me that they trust me not to use it against them. It’s a wonderfully self-perpetuating cycle of trust. Your authentic leadership video is an efficient way to start that cycle, and it can be repeated effortlessly with new team members, prospective team members, and customers.

When people trust you, they’ll believe in what you believe in. That’s why, in order to leverage that trust, you’ve got to…

Align yourself with the mission.

It seems like common sense, but you can’t get other people to care about a mission that you don’t really care about. My experience as an underling in various organizations has taught me that when the company culture is built around hierarchy instead of leadership, team members see your mission as getting nice and rich, and their mission as toiling away for the benefit of someone who doesn’t deserve it.

Pretty hard to get good work out of people who lug around a mindset that depressing.

Your authentic leadership video can show your team that you care about the mission on the same level they do. Not the mission to make your company bigger or to make us all richer (because those are disproportionately your mission), but the mission to make the world better by doing the thing your company is supposed to be doing; a mission with an intangible payoff.

Give your people something with meaning to rally behind! As long as you really, honestly care, your message will come across.

Speaking of which, why do you care so much anyway?

Say why you care.

Be forthright about how you’ll be emotionally affected by the success or failure of the mission. If you’re in it for the right reasons, this should come as naturally as morning coffee. Nothing says “I am worthy of your trust and respect” like not being above a cause or idea.

Everyone has served cynical, dead-hearted authority figures, so the genuine display of emotional investment you communicate through your authentic leadership video will command immediate attention. Tell a (real) personal story. Explain how the mission found its way into your heart. It doesn’t have to be a hyper-emotional, life-or-death, Saul-on-the-road-to-Damascus epiphany, just a genuine reason you’re a fit for the thing you’re doing.

If nothing comes to mind, quit immediately and find a better career for yourself. Then use the story of this moment to inspire your new followers (be sure to make a video).

Need help?

We love helping authentic leaders express their passion through video. Please don’t hesitate to contact us today!