The Four Components of Authentic Leadership

More and more businesses and brands are focusing on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and executing social good campaigns.

Socially conscious consumers and employees are seeking out companies that share their values, and have a greater mission beyond the products and services they provide.

In an interview with Forbes, director of partnerships and strategy for GOODcorps Grant Garrison, shares his perspective on the rise of social good campaigns, why authentic leadership is so important, and the four vital components to authentic leadership.


The Four Components of Authentic Leadership

Pick an issue that is core to your business and brand

Championing a cause that connects with your business makes it possible to use both employees and assets to help with advancing the mission, building awareness, and educating others about the necessity for action. This puts your business in a position of education and advocacy, helping the broader community involved in taking action on an issue.

Add value to a community that cares about that issue — don’t just tell your story

The Pepsi Refresh Project (GOODcorp's first initiative) raised $32 million in grants for individuals, nonprofits, and social enterprises, demonstrating the company’s ability to contribute in a meaningful and impactful way.

The funds were raised through “an open-source, democratic platform that demonstrated latent demand for a national spotlight for community heroes.”

For Garrison, the success of the Pepsi Refresh Project was due to the company’s participation in charity communities and philanthropic groups as a benefactor, and not as a corporate sponsor.

Include members of the community in the planning process and execution

Garrison points out that it’s not enough to add value; companies need to involve the community they are trying to serve in planning and execution when starting social campaigns.

GOOD/CORPS partnered with the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and Opportunity Equation, to create 100Kin10, a program geared towards supporting the STEM education for the next generation of scientists, technologists, and engineers.

Garrison explained, “100Kin10 is constantly refining this network of 160+ multi-sector partners in order to foster maximum collaboration toward 100,000 new, excellent STEM teachers in classrooms by 2021.”

By using the community, executive leadership at Carnegie ensured they were building a program the community needed, not what Carnegie thought they needed.

Be transparent about self-interest

“I think people are pretty hip to the idea that businesses aren’t doing this out of the goodness of their heart—that they have a self interest in it. So it’s better if people are transparent about that instead of trying to pretend that they are doing it for purely altruistic reasons,” say Garrison.

Companies interested in starting social good campaigns need to be honest about their intentions and self-interest, and communicate that when launching them.

Social campaigns can be incredibly effective marketing tools, as well as CSR initiatives, but should always be clearly labeled.