The world has changed so much in these past few years. People are taking sides about almost everything, and they’re very passionate about their position. It used to be that in the business world, you could avoid these sensitive topics or, sidestep them if they weren’t directly related to your offering. But that no longer works.
Perfect examples are the international and national enterprises that are at all involved in Russia or Ukraine with their business these days. They can’t afford to be passive. They have to not only have a strong opinion, but they also have to act with strength and choose a direction and a position.
So how do you navigate this polarized world? As a business leader, it starts with being authentic. That means knowing first, who it is that you are and what it is your company stands for: who they serve, why you exist.
Having that core, and then being true to it, acting consistently to those values, those beliefs, those goals will be a foundation for you. That will be a strong place that will help you navigate what’s going to be a bumpy ride, no matter what you do. But first of all, have that certainty about your direction and your purpose, and that will help you.
Then you need to be brave. It’s not going to be easy. There are few topics where there’s a right answer anymore or unanimity about things. So you have to be willing to defend your position. Also, being authentic is being imperfect. You’re not going to be doing everything just right. The days of whitewashing and sugar coating are kind of over. You’re better off “putting it out there” based on your authentic truth to hold you on the line, but being OK with things not being perfect.
And then move forward and just stick with it. Jump into the fray, whatever the topic is, whatever the communications are, whatever the crisis might be, or the thing you need to act in response to. Get out there and do it, learn from what you do, and iterate. This is almost like a social version of an agile process.
You don’t know what’s going to happen. So if you start with the known, which is your values – your authentic core – and then respond consistently to that as things develop externally to your company, eventually you will find your way through this. And at the end of the day, if you do this, you have that courage. You stick with it, you stay true to your core. You’re going to differentiate yourself in a very positive way from other people in the space that aren’t so directed.
This is messy. It can’t be fully tracked on a spreadsheet. As the CEO or owner, you need to lead the way. You need to follow this uncertain path with resolute commitment. The rest of your team will follow. And your business reputation will also follow.