EP. 4 How to be an Authentic Leader, with Jonathan Aberman
Play • 31 min

Jonathan Aberman Dean and Professor of practice at the School of Business and Technology at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. Managing Director, Amplifier Advisors and Chairman and Managing Director of Tandem NSI.

In this episode, Jonathan shares an underlying theme of servant leadership and using strategy as teams tackle challenging problems like transferring to a virtual work environment and dealing with despair. Jonathan explains the importance of not letting technology work against you as you lead your virtual team and how his secret to leading a virtual team is giving autonomy and expecting accountability. Jonathan points out two qualities in highly effective leaders which is empathy, and self-awareness and discusses how asking yourself and your team one question can give you incredible feedback in leading through these times right now. 

Key Points:

Strategy Changes in Transferring to Virtual Leadership

  • When delivering video calls, speak from the heart, not from a script with a focus on providing hope and clarity.
  • His secret to successful leadership as a virtual leader is giving both autonomy and expecting accountability.
  • You have to force serendipity in a virtual team.
  • Avoid Zoom schedule burnout by Implementing non-mandatory Zoom meetings to replace your open-door policy. Most serendipitous meetings are only 5 minutes long
  • Leaders have to be intentional about scheduling time to meet with people because they aren’t just going to “run into them” in a virtual setting.
  • When demonstrating authenticity in the physical world, leaders can use certain opportunities such as an open-door policy, getting coffee with people. However, in the virtual world, demonstrating authenticity involves things like doing your meetings without a zoom background so people can see your pets and how you live
  • Organizations that are thriving through the pandemic are purpose-oriented, conscious capital organizations.

Dealing with Despair and Uncertainty

  • A silver lining in the pandemic is that Leaders are being provided with extra time to focus on hobbies and ask deeper questions like identifying our personal “Why” and getting clear on who we are here to serve.
  • Leaders help their teams deal with uncertainty by helping them focus, “I need you to focus on three things right now,” or asking, “where are you (or could you) be spending your time on things for the better right now?


  • Highly effective leaders are self-aware and empathetic.
  • Leaders today need to not only get real with their people, but also get real with themselves.
  • Questions to ask: 
  •   Am I doing a good job? To yourself, and to your team. 
  •   What’s my personal WHY and who am I here to serve? 

Servant Leadership

  • To be a stronger servant leader, you need to first understand people are stressed, frightened, and overwhelmed by information. 
  • Leaders can accommodate the stress by acknowledging their own stress. Servant Leaders can create clarity in uncertain situations by being clear in explaining what they know, what they don’t know, what they think might happen, and being frank about the facts.
  • Action-oriented, type A personalities are struggling because of the circumstances.  They can’t be as action oriented right now and are learning to sit back and let some things go.
  • Servant leadership is recognizing that there are a lot of ways to get to where our team needs to get to and finding the way the team should do it. 

Audio Credit: Show Me the Way, Vendredi 

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