The Forum Weekly Roundup: on the evolution of authenticity in leadership and 5 things we’ve learnt this week

David Cowan

Managing Director

The Financial Services Forum

On the evolution of authenticity in leadership

Between Boris’s self-filmed personal video messages during his period of quarantine, and New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, hosting a Facebook Live Q&A ‘after she had put her daughter to bed’, the current crisis has demanded a leadership style that transcends boardroom settings and formal wear.

In our own businesses, the lines between home and work are increasingly blurred. Team meetings are now held in our respective living rooms, featuring cameo appearances from pets and family. Juggling home-schooling and strategy meetings gives a new meaning to the phrase ‘work-life balance’, which only mere months ago suggested the ability to refrain from checking emails on the weekend.

The authenticity that the current situation demands is making us boundlessly more accessible to our teams and colleagues. Hierarchy aside, we’re together in tackling new professional and life challenges, learning from our respective experiences. Hierarchy considered, the empathy, transparency and humility that authentic leadership demands will build trust, promote confidence in management decisions and open honest dialogues with our employees.

There have been a lot of thoughts about how corporate culture might change post-crisis, but most centre around practicalities, such as an increase in remote working days and video conferences. Perhaps the most major innovation will be the evolution of authentic leadership approach and, by extension, company culture that embraces working life as a component of the holistic and authentic self as opposed to an arms-length appendage.

Through a marketing lens in particular, encouraging our teams to celebrate the unique perspectives and skill sets their non-professional influences provide can only be a good thing. Particularly when fostering creative talent and originality of thought; both of which require looking outside the traditional realms of corporate life.


5 things we’ve learnt this week

  1. A report by Bellwether IPA found that ‘total marketing budgets had been cut at the strongest rate since 2009’. The estimated -4.3% GDP contraction implied a predicted 13.7% decline in ad spend for 2020, based on an analysis of the historical relationship between the two factors
  2. Research by IPSOS Mori found that 72% of participants (n=999) in a USA based poll felt that companies had a social responsibility to offer aid during the coronavirus crisis
  3. IPSOS Mori also reported that, in an experiment to measure sentiment towards advertising campaigns during Covid-19, participants reported an uplift in positive brand perception after viewing an advert demonstrating a brand ‘taking a stand alongside people facing the crisis’. The study also reported a potential for behaviour change towards the brand as an additional effect
  4. Forum sponsors BT are ‘demonstrating not telling’ consumers about their brand purpose by releasing a series of educational videos to help people to embrace technology during the crisis. Featuring high-profile household names such as Clare Baldwin, the videos provide tutorials on new technology, such as WhatsApp and podcasts
  5. A group of furloughed creatives have clubbed together to set up a pro-bono agency, under the moniker ‘Not Fur’Long’. Their ambition is utilise their paid sabbatical under the government furlough scheme to help small businesses prosper in a difficult time


As ever, have a peaceful weekend and stay safe. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line.

Best wishes,


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