Authentic Leadership

Leadership Styles
Knowledge Center


Next Topic

Leadership Styles > Best Practices > Authentic Leadership

Authentic Leadership
Victor Manuel Monteiro Seco, Entrepreneur, Portugal, Member
I can't wait for great authentic leadership to emerge in the current context in which the trust is shaken. In times of crisis people discover ways to better deal with the future.
As an authentic leader, self-consciousness is absolutely fundamental. You cannot be emotionally intelligent if you are not also self-aware. Authentic leadership requires you to ' Know Thyself ', Greek: ' γνῶθι σεαυτόν ', Latin: ' nosce te ipsum 'This requires, in addition to maturity, an intense work of self-examination or individuation. The criticisms, even the toughest, are essential for the construction of self-awareness. To do so, you need to get honest feedback from followers, so the followers must also be authentic.
If we are all reliable, genuine and probable, organizations will be better. Here the values are crucial. There has to be a framework of values in which all believe and consider vital to achieve.
In parallel, we have great need of someone that listens to us, understands us and, above all, tells us the truth. Authentic leaders have to maintain high levels of motivation, especially in this era of "trigger events". Such extrinsic motivation will help to see problematic circumstances as an opportunity to change the future.
So, how can one become an authentic leader?
Talk with your heart, conquer our followers. This implies that, after having said what you want to do, you must do it;
Communicate openly and frequently with the other, we have to dialogue. This is much more than only saying the truth. The communication is not only composed of good news. it includes that what's good, bad and indifferent;
Make clear, from the beginning, the expectations and standards of behavior that the followers and leaders have to achieve. Be the change you want to make;
Look for people to take up your commitments, reflecting on this without resentment. Committing with the goal, not with the plan;
Value people and invest in them in order to create feelings of well-being and commitment within the working group;
Take care of people without ever infantilizing, requiring them to take responsibility and developing moral and ethical bases.
In short, the authentic leader demonstrates passion for the goals, practices consistently the values and leads with the heart as well as with the head. She/he defines the long-term, meaningful relationships and has the self-discipline to achieve results. They know who they are.

Elements to Authentic Leadership
Gregory Johnson, Coach, United States, Premium Member
A personal discipline to be visionary...It is my opinion that there are some basic elements to authentic leadership:
1. First is the personal discipline to be visionary. In my opinion authentic leaders have the ability to see beyond the static or the immediate but consider the static in consideration of the larger agenda or plan. Seeing beyond the current situation or circumstance is the inherent responsibility of an authentic leader.
2. Secondly, the influence and finger print of an authentic leader impacts culture and rhythm of both the organization and direction. We call this "presence". It is important that authentic leaders be present or they may be in the wrong setting and their presence may be working against the potential success of an organizations ambitions and confusing the people within it.
3. And lastly the ability to articulate on multiple levels the purpose, plan and vision could fall under the topic of communications. Authentic leaders must be able to demonstrate exceptional competency in their communication on all levels or their role is confusing and open to misinterpretation by others.

Qualities of Authentic Leadership (Goffee and Jones)
Victor Manuel Monteiro Seco, Entrepreneur, Portugal, Member
OK! But I think leaders can't do anything without followers help. It's a question of organization balance. When you find somebody that chooses you to follow, such as Goffee and Jones said (Why Should Anyone Be Led by You? In HBR Working Knowledge, 9/25/2000), you have to be yourself. You must become your truly self and sometimes learning with your weakness and losses to understand what works and what works not. You need to really care about the people you lead. It's a question of humanity and humility.
Sometimes you have a "presence" separated mentally from your followers that allow you to drive the organization forward.
You must be distant and objective to put things ahead. People need to feel significant, part of the community and want some excitement and authenticity.
So authentic leaders, according to Goffee and Jones, share four recommendable qualities:
1. They selectively show their weaknesses. By exposing some vulnerability, they reveal their approachability and humanity.
2. They rely heavily on intuition to gauge the appropriate timing and course of their actions. Their ability to collect and interpret soft data helps them know just when and how to act.
3. They manage employees with something we call tough empathy. Inspirational leaders empathize passionately—and realistically—with people, and they care intensely about the work employees do.
4. They reveal their differences. They capitalize on what's unique about themselves.

What are Authentic Leaders? Avolio, Luthans and Walumbwa
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
In 2004, influential writers Avolio, Luthans, and Walumbwa define authentic leaders as "those who are deeply aware of how they think and behave and are perceived by others as being aware of their own and others’ values/moral perspectives, knowledge, and strengths; aware of the context in which they operate; and who are confident, hopeful, optimistic, resilient, and of high moral character".
Source: Avolio, B. J., Luthans, F., & Walumba, F. O. (2004). Authentic leadership: Theory building for veritable sustained performance. Working paper: Gallup Leadership Institute, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, p. 4
Authentic leadership in organizations is defined by Luthans and Avolio as "a process that draws from both positive psychological capacities and a highly developed organizational context, which results in both greater self-awareness and self-regulated positive behaviors on the part of leaders and associates, fostering positive self-development."
Source: Luthans, F., & Avolio, B. J. (2003). Authentic leadership: A positive developmental approach. In K. S. Cameron, J. E. Dutton, & R. E. Quinn (Eds.), Positive organizational scholarship (p. 243). San Francisco: Barrett-Koehler.

Four Characteristics of Authentic Leaders, Authentic Followership (Shamir and Eilam)
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
In 2005, Shamir and Eilam advanced their 4 characteristics of authentic leaders:
1. Rather than faking their leadership, authentic leaders are true to themselves (rather than conforming to the expectations of others);
2. Authentic leaders are motivated by personal convictions, rather than to attain status, honors, or other personal benefits.
3. Authentic leaders are originals, not copies; that is, they lead from their own personal point of view;
4. The actions of authentic leaders are based on their personal values and convictions.
Note that according to Shamir and Eilam, the leadership style and the content of the leader's values or convictions are not part of the definition of authentic leaders (several others require some 'positive moral perspective' to be present).
Shamir and Eilam also introduced the concept of Authentic Followership, which is achieved by "followers who follow leaders for authentic reasons and have an authentic relationship with the leader".
Source: Shamir, B., & Eilam, G. (2005). "What’s your story?" A life-stories approach to authentic leadership development. The Leadership Quarterly.

Characteristics of Authentic Leadership
Gregory Johnson, Coach, United States, Premium Member
The HBR team is on point with a general observation by George, Sims, McLean & Mayer when they wrote that 1000's of scholars have written various definitions of leadership and it is wonderful that there are people that did not chose to duplicate or mimic what they have learned.
The idea, which I believe to be accurate, is that if people in leadership positions were to work toward duplicating their learning they would not be authentic but clones of someone elses ideas, thoughts and passions.
Authentic leaders are genuine and true to their passion and intellect for both themselves and those they interact with.
We are getting closer as we keep our focus on true or authentic qualities in leadership.

Refined Definition of Authentic Leadership
Victor Manuel Monteiro Seco, Entrepreneur, Portugal, Member
Based on the preceding contributions we can advance a more “refined definition” of authentic leadership as “a pattern of leader behavior that draws upon and promotes both positive psychological capacities and a positive ethical climate, to foster greater self-awareness, an internalized moral perspective, balanced processing of information, and relational transparency on the part of leaders working with followers, fostering positive self-development (Walumbwa et al, 2008, p.94).
This dimensional structure of the authentic leadership construct considers four “substantive components:
1. Self-awareness refers to demonstrating an understanding of how one derives and makes meaning of the world and how that meaning making process impacts the way one views him-self or herself over time. It also refers to showing an understanding of one’s strengths and weaknesses and the multifaceted nature of the self, which includes gaining insight into the self through exposure to others, and being cognizant of one’s impact on other people (Kernis, 2003).
2. Relational transparency refers to presenting one’s authentic self (as opposed to a fake or distorted self) to others. Such behavior promotes trust through disclosures that involve openly sharing information and expressions of one’s true thoughts and feelings while trying to minimize displays of inappropriate emotions (Kernis, 2003).
3. Balanced processing refers to leaders who show that they objectively analyze all relevant data before coming to a decision. Such leaders also solicit views that challenge their deeply held positions (Gardner, Avolio, Luthans, et al., 2005).
4. Internalized moral perspective refers to an internalized and integrated form of self-regulation (Ryan & Deci, 2003). This sort of self-regulation is guided by internal moral standards and values versus group, organizational, and societal pressures, and it results in expressed decision making and behavior that is consistent with these internalized values (Avolio & Gardner, 2005; Gardner, Avolio, Luthans, et al., 2005).
In sum, the proposed view of the authentic leadership suggests that authentic leaders show to others that they genuinely desire to understand their own leadership to serve others more effectively (George, 2003). They act in accordance with deep personal values and convictions to build credibility and win the respect and trust of followers. By encouraging diverse viewpoints and building networks of collaborative relationships with followers, they lead in a manner that followers perceive and describe as authentic (Avolio et al., 2004)”. [Walumbwa et al, 2008, pp. 95-96]
Avolio, B. J., Gardner, W. L., Walumbwa, F. O., Luthans, F., & May, D. R. 2004. Unlocking the mask: a look at the process by which authentic leaders impact follower attitudes and behaviors. Leadership Quarterly,15: 801-823.
Avolio, B. J., & Gardner, W. L. 2005. Authentic leadership development: getting to the root of positive forms of leadership. Leadership Quarterly,16: 315-338.
Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. 2000. “What” and “why” of goal pursuits: human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11: 227-268.
Gardner, W. L., Avolio, B. J., Luthans, F., May, D. R., & Walumbwa, F. O. 2005. “Can you see the real me?” A self-based model of authentic leader and follower development. Leadership Quarterly,16: 343-372.
George, B. 2003. Authentic leadership: rediscovering the secrets to creating lasting value. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Kernis, M. H. 2003. Toward a conceptualization of optimal self-esteem. Psychological Inquiry, 14: 1-26.
Walumbwa, F., Avolio, B., Gardner, W., Wernsing, T. & Peterson, S. 2008. Authentic leadership: development and validation of a theory-based measure. Journal of Management, vol. 34 no. 1, February, pp. 89-126.

Characteristic of Authentic Leaders: Excellent Communicator
mohd.hanifah, HR Consultant, Malaysia, Member
@Greg Johnson: I agree completely that authentic leaders, no matter at whatever level, must be able to communicate intelligently, clearly, confidently, gracefully and sincerely. If you fail to do so, confusion and distrust reigns.

Authentic Leaders in Brief
JuanCarlos Pacheco, Ing. Electrónico, PMP, MBA, Peru, Member
In my modest view, the authentic leader must have:
- self esteem in order to really understand the world,
- a great ability to communicate the objectives and goals to the followers,
- in such way that they get it as theirs, and finally,
- (s)he must lead the action, has to be in the action, in the camp of battle.

Authentic Leadership and Leader Authenticity are Different
Michael Horwitz, Professor, United States, Member
So far some great citations to the most recent work on authentic leadership have been made. Walumbwa et al. & Kernis come at this from an academic approach, whereas George seems to have more of a practioner view.
Either way, all distinguish between an individidual who is authentic, and there are degrees on a continuum, and the act of authentic leadership, which is granted by the follower.
There is little, if any, published work on authentic followers which is one of the next areas for development. It takes authentic leaders working with authentic followers in the organizational context to create truly authentic leadership in which the four components are fully engaged and at play.
This all begs the question of how we design programs that address the deficits through individual and organizational development.

Difference between being Natural and being Authentic
Adonis, Business Consultant, France, Member
- The theoretical elements provided by Vitor and Michael means we have to consider when leadership is appreciated / judged as authentic, given that management context may change. In such an external view, appreciation can be more or less subject of audit methods which apply references and metrics.
- Another thing is that there is a difference between to be natural and to be authentic. I do not think that everybody has the ability to be authentic within all these various management contexts and circumstences, but just natural, disarmed from mimetism and proven practices, knowing that for any management object the manager opposes skills from his charisma and personnality.

Authentic Leadership what it Is?
Leodegardo M. Pruna, Professor, Philippines, Member
An authentic leader is one who is not only true to others but more importantly true to himself.
In the Johari Window, the authentic leader occupies the open window.
The authentic leader performs openly and unselfishly for the institution/people under his leadership and serves their interest and welfare above his/her own.

Authentic Leadership Requires Experimenting with Various Leadership Styles / Methods
Rebecca Roe, United States, Premium Member
I have a conflict here. If we are to assume that leadership styles are taught, and we know that there are many leadership styles and approaches showcased on 12manage, then we have many from which to choose that can support or improve our inherent leadership qualities.
You can try methods and not be a clone of your learning. My argument is that everyday is different, every person you lead is different everyday, the tasks may be similar but never exactly the same, so what worked this week, with another team, another situation, another set of variables, there will be levels of improvement or status quo relating to the success of your style. You pick and choose what's best for you or what works in your situation.
I think to be authentic, you have to know yourself. That takes lots of time, and you have to have experiences in trying lots of different methods to see what meets your criteria for good outcomes. I don't worry about being a clone of my learning. I see not enough leaders actually practicing what they learned.

Know Yourself and The Effect on your Followers
Alex Dail, Management Consultant, United States, Member
Authentic leaders know themselves, but also their followers / subordinates, they know how to respond to the individuals.
Stated differently they know how there choices about what they say, how they say it, what goes on said etc. will likely be taken by their subordinates and what effect it will have on them.
In a nutshell, they know what response is likely to happen as a consequence of their behavior.

To Know Yourself You Have to Face your Most Fundamental Fears
Onno Harmsen, Entrepreneur, Netherlands, Member
@Rebecca Roe: to become an authentic leader, you need to know yourself. In order to know yourself, you should be open to face your fears, because our fears create non-authentic behaviour.
Our fears always have something to do with our craving for significance (just be honest to yourself and you will find out). We can say that the urge to be an authentic leader in itself is craving for significance. Funny isn't it?

Leadership Begins by Leading our Own Life First
Maria Montero, Coach, Venezuela, Member
I like the way Vitor addresses leadership. I could not agree more. I'd like to add that emotional intelligence begins with self-awareness, so it is really implied that this is the fundamental.
And also part of the 67 chapter of Tao Te King that says "I have three treasures which I hold and keep: the first is mercy, the second is economy and the third is daring not to be ahead of others. From mercy come courage; from economy comes generosity; From humility comes leadership... Men who do not believe in humility, but always try to be first. This is certain death..."

Address Craving for Significance and Convince Oneself First
Marta Amde, Financial Consultant, United States, Member
@Onno Harmsen : you said it all. Two points I want to add
(a) We are created in the image of god. All God wants from us is to recognize him. I believe that recognition / craving for significance is God-like, instinctual and needs to be addressed adequately by each individual. Then, that individual has a vessel that can be filled with goodies. Fears do fill up vessels and we need to empty them. The bible has 365 verses that command us not to fear, one for each day of the year. But, sometimes, being honest to ourselves by itself may not be sufficient.
We need the help of others even to find out what our fears are. Although they are ours, they can be hidden from the owner. No one is an island: leaders need feedback from others but not necessarily their followers.
(b) Leaders must be convinced themselves before they can convince others and make them followers. I read these two points between the lines in the leadership qualities of Drucker and Joel Osteen..

Authentic Leadership
Fatime Usman Mafa, Management Consultant, Member
I agree with Maria. Leadership begins by leading our life first and also trusting our instincts, by making decisions that help in changing the life of others is the best way of authentic leadership.

Is authenticity in the Person or in the Leader?
Jacques Strydom, Business Consultant, South Africa, Member
I'm struggling to differentiate between being an authentic person and being an authentic leader.
In what I have read, it seems as if whatever has been said about an authentic leader, essentially is being said about the person in the leader role - there is no leadership differentiators.
Put differently, what else does a person who lives authentically do (need to do) to show authentic leadership?

First an Authentic Person, then an Authentic Leader...
Victor Manuel Monteiro Seco, Entrepreneur, Portugal, Member
Hello Jacques, firstly we must assume the authentic person. Not every person wants to be an organization leader.
But we can find inside us a great possibility to be a leader of our self. We must value the positive traits we have and understand ourself better. Then we can, if we truly wish that, show what we want to do with others.

Leaders and Followers
eva lufranco, Business Consultant, Philippines, Member
Hi Mr. Seco, it is great to have been able to read your leaderhip issue. It is very nice that on account of being an authentic leader you emphasize that in order to have followers, firstly you need to be humane and humble enough. True I agree in being human and humble breeds commitment and motivation.
And also on account of self awareness... I humbly agree on that too... As is always said "You cannot give what you don't have..." Thanks for all ideas to reflect on...

Authentic Leadership - A Myth or Reality?
VENKATESWARAN, Teacher, India, Member
In reality there is nothing special like authentic leadership and un-authentic leadership. Leadership itself means all virtues that motivate people to do their best taking him as the role model.
By virtue of all the essential managerial and leadership qualities he becomes an acceptable leader and if anyone of these virtues diminishes, he may be thrown away as a leader as has been witnessed recently in many countries!

2 Questions about Authentic Leadership
Belay Gezahegn, Director, Ethiopia, Member
I would like to understand whether authenticity implies to being authentic to ones own idea, or to followers, or does it imply to virtuousness and viciousness of ideas?
Were leaders (political or business) who were blamed for what they did in the past but stood firm authentic leaders?

Authentic LEADERS
Jacques Strydom, Business Consultant, South Africa, Member
@Vitor Manuel Monteiro Seco: hi. May I call you Vitor? Thanks for the swift reply. What you say makes sense, thanks.
In this case, would there be specific characteristices that the person demonstrates as an authentic leader in addition to the characteristics of an authentic person?

Authentic Leadership is Preferable Style
Sylvia Grant, Consultant, Australia, Member
The characteristics of authentic leadership in the comments above remind me of the book by Stephen Covey, "Principle Centered Leadership", and David Rock's article, "Leading with the brain in mind".
Numerous articles on the neuroscience of leadership are also aligned to authentic leadership.
In my own experience, the "command & control" style is absolutely ineffective, particularly in knowledge-based organizations. Whilst processes can be "managed", it is far more productive to "lead" people.
I fully agree with, and support, the argument presented by Vitor Manuel Montero Seco. The more leaders become adaptive and authentic, the better the work environment will become, resulting in open and honest communication, freedom to innovate and share knowledge, zero blame culture, energized workers, delivery excellence, and improved levels of customer satisfaction.

Authentic Leadership - The Way Forward
Victor Manuel Monteiro Seco, Entrepreneur, Portugal, Member
@Venkateswaran : I think a myth is something or a person that people believe has been successful in the past.
No, I'm pointing tips for the present and most of all for the future! The current European crisis is based on a focus on finance and bottomline results, the teaching on MBA courses.
We have to change that and, like Beddoes-Jones(2011) said, become "more self-aware leaders, better quality thinking and a focus on transformative, pro-social, sustainable and collaborative leadership that is people-focused and values-led rather than simply profit driven".

Authentic Leadership
Laxman Prasad Paudel, Manager, Nepal, Member
Authentic leadership takes ownership of his/her organization, followers/subordinates and he/she is capable of making an authentic pathway to achieve the goal in a smart way.

Authenticity is not Optimal Compatibility
Adonis, Business Consultant, France, Member
@Vitor Manuel Monteiro Seco: I understand the application domain you suggested and I like it. From that point of view and towards a new European perspective, everything intermediary between leaders and actionable elements have to be radically changed. There is a political reason why Europe is so technocratic. Europe, at least government in Brussels, acts like a common management center under the leadership of the most powerful countries, and nothing else. Small countries are spectators or protectorates or out of any decision.
I wonder, could self-awareness and other leader qualities which theoretically drive to authenticity be based on a technocratic management system?
I do not think so since authenticity is to differentiate from optimal compatibility with an intermediary management system.

Authentic Leadership Means a Dialogue
Miguel Merodio, Business Consultant, Mexico, Member
My personal view is that authentic leadership is not subject to tightly defined patterns. Interpersonal relationships are influenced by multiple factors. So if you're really convinced you should do what is right, that means a commitment to a dialogue with the counterpart to hear his/her point of view.

Authentic Leadership in a Moral Sense
Robert Sowell, Consultant, United States, Member
Sometimes we use the same words, but with different meanings. Some of the posts related to this topic are examples, because we are using words that can be defined in a variety of ways. Remember that a leader is someone with followers. To speak of whether a leader is "authentic" may merely be a question whether the leader actually has any followers.
However, many of the posts for this topic so far are using the term, "authentic", in a moral sense, to refer to virtues such as integrity, empathy, and transparency.
Personally, I highly value virtue. But I know that people may have followers even if they possess little of the virtue that I value. Acknowledging this helps me recognize that whether a person has followers has as much to do with the perception of the followers regarding this leader as with the actual moral qualities of the person.
People follow those they perceive to be:
- Competent (in the arena in which they are following),
- Confident,
- Compassionate, and
- Consistent.

5 Marks of Authentic Leadership
Laura Nayeli Peralta Calderon, Mexico, Member
I call these the five marks of authentic leadership:
1. Have insight
2. Demonstrate initiative.
3. Exert influence
4. Have impact
5. Exercise integrity
Leaders must be deliberate and intentional if they are to be successful. These five qualities can guide us as we grow in our ability to lead.

Authentic Leadership or Leader Authenticity
Victor Manuel Monteiro Seco, Entrepreneur, Portugal, Member
@Michael Horwitz: as Cooper et al. (2005) said, it’s better to understand the authenticity construct as an “element of a continuum where leaders and their followers are becoming more and more authentic the more they are preserving their true values, preferences and identity”.
Leadership based mostly on control is no longer efficient and becomes a problem to everybody, including controllers. So, authentic leader’s emphasis must be on the construction of a special environment: great commitment, higher satisfaction, profound self-awareness, self-regulated positive behaviors and positive self-development.

Authentic Leadership Requires Someone to Be Flexible
Mapsie, South Africa, Member
@Rebecca Roe: I agree with you completely, Rebecca. An authentic leader needs to be flexible and dynamic and also embrace other leadership styles so as to accommodate the different situations.
Being a leader also requires applying new and old traits of leadership and also to be flexible. Listening skills and interpersonal skills are essential so as to be a good communicator and to be able to deal with different kinds of people at different levels.

Authentic Leadership & Flexibility
Gregory Johnson, Coach, United States, Premium Member
@Rebecca Roe makes a great point regarding clones and the need to be flexible. Authentic leaders are learners. I believe they/we are like a sponge. Not only do we take in information, but we are on a continuous journey to seek additional information not only for ourselves, but in accordance to the situations or various environments in which we find ourselves.
We often find ourselves making reference to leadership styles, when an authentic leader does not exhibit a style that can be described in words but possesses a presence that others want more of. Often that presence is a manifestation of that persons learning and the manner in which they reach into their reservoir of learnings, values and passion and display it.
It is displayed differently in each unique situation to the point that others recognize this person as being of extreme value to the conversation or task. So much so that others want more and become followers of an authentic leader.

Significance of Self in Leadership
Rebecca Roe, United States, Premium Member
@Onno Harmsen: agreed.
We want to have a purpose to our lives. This is one way to make a difference and be significant. The question to a leader would be, what would happen if I wasn't here? Why am I here? What is it that I can bring to the table to make this a better place? Will people listen? How can I get them to listen? What do I envision this place to look like in 1 year, 5 years...
Effective leadership is all about asking questions of yourself - being humble - being complimentary - helping others make the vision happen - being inspirational. There is a selflessness and a selfishness (to succeed/matter) that drives us. It is a balance.

What Other Features are Needed for Authentic Leaders?
Dr zahra gheidar, Consultant, Iran, Member
Obviously all these points are vital and considerable points. Authentic leaders are learners, self aware and also they know others, self control and so on. Are there any other traits of strong, authentic leaders that we should consider?

What Other Features are Needed?
Victor Manuel Monteiro Seco, Entrepreneur, Portugal, Member
@Zahra Gheidar: hi, a strong leader has all the traits observed in overall leadership theory and practice.
But the point is: generic transformational leaders are not obliged to be trustful persons. They could lie to the others. The great thing about authentic leadership is that you not only need all the generic characteristics for successful leadership, but you must also be genuine, trustful and a truly human being.

Authenticity of Leadership refers to a Particular Required Management Context
Adonis, Business Consultant, France, Member
We have to consider that authentic leadership must be a type of leadership, in which we refer to a certain truthfulness of the origins (past experience, cultural environment of the origins, and also the intentions of the leader (what to do, how to achieve the goals).
This authenticity is in relation to a specific management context which requires for leadership these qualities.
What I mean is one and the same authentic leader may not be authentic in another management context. Therefore only a small overlap subsists between the set of qualities of authentic leader, and the set of qualities of a leader in general. And this is what we expect when we recruit such a leader.

Truth is the Most Important Feature Needed for an Authentic Leader
Rebecca Roe, United States, Premium Member
@Vitor Manuel Monteiro Seco: if you want lifelong respect and a clear conscience, an authentic must take the successes with the failures.
The best will humbly spread the fruits of success with the team, and will take the blame for the failure. Sometimes truthfulness takes a toll, that's why so many people alter the truth and blame others, or blatantly lie.
But if you tell the truth about the situation you have to be willing to suffer or enjoy the consequences. Regroup, celebrate or move on. I believe the clear conscience of an authentic leader to tell / aim for the truth would be most important to that leaders. The mere title of authentic leaders would mean truthful, real, solid, not fake.

Authentic Leadership
Adam mohammed Baba, Director, Ghana, Member
I agree with Vitor Manuel, because in recent times demand for people centered leadership has inspired organizations to shift to ideas that take followers input in to consideration. The leadership that places emphasis on personal growth and development of followers and pays attention to their needs, places the trust of followers in the leader and thus makes him/her authentic.
The focus on leadership studies is shifting from the popular styles that places emphasis on control and command to a shared and rational approach which places emphasis on interaction between the leader and the followers as the key building blocks.

Authentic Leadership, Believe and Trust
Victor Manuel Monteiro Seco, Entrepreneur, Portugal, Member
People need to believe and trust in their leaders, and now more than ever.
1) BELIEVE, in the sense that was given by Gilbert (1991), which "involves the knowledge and mental representation of a significant information considered as being true". From the outset, we accept as true the position expressed by the leader. In case of rejection, such a contradiction will simply lead to non-acceptance of the leader (p. 107).
2) And TRUST, how about that?
- For Robbins, trust is "a positive expectation that the other person will not act in an opportunistic way" (2005, p. 276). An expectation can be expressed through words, actions or decisions.
- In his writings, Giddens focuses on "trust and risk environments", characteristic of contemporary society, which leads him to conclude that "trust can be defined as the belief in the credibility of a person or system, with a view to a given set of outcomes or events in which this belief expressed a faith in the probity or the love of another, or the correction of abstract principles (technical knowledge)" (1991, p. 41).
- If we are still in line with the concept of social capital, initially used by Coleman (1990) and developed by Putnam (1996, pp. 179-180), we can highlight that for Francis Fukuyama (1996), the relationship between trust and economic development is central, since it seeks to show that "one of the most important lessons that we can draw a note of economic life is that the well-being of a nation as well as their ability to compete, are conditioned by a single, subtle cultural feature: the level of trust inherent in the society concerned "(1996, p. 19).
The authenticity of the leader, in exercising its positive qualities of character, will be the lighthouse that will help people to navigate the revolt waters of the growing complexity and of trust deficit.

Authentic Leadership is a Alter Ego of Who?
hernando bernal, Professor, Colombia, Member
I think also the believe and trust in himself is important. But is it possible to obtain the most powerful spirit to lead the organization into the new society, or is he made by itself, or is it a matter of abstract principles such as Vitor Manuel says?

Trust is the First Step to Motion
Dr zahra gheidar, Consultant, Iran, Member
Trust is the first step to motion that leaders need to be a leader.
How can leaders gain this trust? And how can they show that they will not abuse this trust?

Authentic Leadership
Victor Manuel Monteiro Seco, Entrepreneur, Portugal, Member
@Hernando Bernal: be humble. Assume that principles are natural and simple. You can believe them or not. But they are life organization fundamentals. The new society, in my opinion, could be the summarized expression of each way of doing things better. But I think we must know ourselves first. Then we can pursue our destiny and our vision.

Consistency, Trust and Authentic Leadership
Robert Sowell, Consultant, United States, Member
Yes, trust is one of the four essential, foundational pillars of leadership. And, at least temporarily, leadership is possible when followers believe the leader is trustworthy, whether this is true or not. Trust is our response to consistency.
The consistency that builds trust includes three categories:
1) Consistency of leaders' statements with themselves; in other words, what the leader says in one setting with a particular audience is consistent with what is said in other settings with other audiences;
2) Consistency of leaders' words and actions; in other words, what the leader does agrees with what the leader says; and
3) Consistency of leaders' words and actions with followers' expectations; in other words, the leader is a leader as perceived by the followers.
And, please keep in mind, that a leader is someone with followers:
- There are many visionaries and many highly moral individuals, but a leader is someone with followers.
- Even without intending to lead, if there are followers, there is a leader.

Authentic Leadership and Trust
Victor Manuel Monteiro Seco, Entrepreneur, Portugal, Member
@Zahra Gheidar: when trust is present, people are overwhelmed about what they do. They collaborate for free, channels of communication open up, the sharing of ideas becomes the norm, and people are not afraid to make mistakes. They take pride in the organization they work for, are committed to the people they work with, and bring themselves more fully to their jobs. In trusting environments, people are able to focus on their jobs; they are more productive and want to come to work.

How About 'Transformational Leadership', can that be Referred to as 'Authentic'?
Adam mohammed Baba, Director, Ghana, Member
Leadership styles have their unique attributes which make a leader who chooses to exercise any of them different from other leaders. Of course, one important element that runs through effective leadership is the ability of a leader to induce commitment, loyalty and higher performance of followers and that may depend on the ability of the leader to motivate the followers.
Like authentic leadership, transformational leadership also engenders high motivation and commitment among followers. In both concepts, the leader stimulates higher ideals and values of followers and creates a feeling of justice which encourages loyalty. Transformational leaders motivate through identification with the leaders vision.
Both concepts seem similar... So can transformational leadership be referred to as authentic?

Authentic or Transformational Leadership
Robert Sowell, Consultant, United States, Member
It seems to me that our responses have used "authentic" to refer to leadership that is the real thing or leadership that exhibits genuine integrity.
Transformational leadership, in my understanding, refers to the results of the leadership.
While it might be argued that authenticity is a requirement in order for the leader to generate transformation, leadership can be authentic without producing transformation.
In some situations, phenomenal leadership is necessary just for survival. Or, authentic leadership might result in a needed push to follow through on some decision or commitment.
I believe that leadership will always produce change. And, if transformation is used as a synonym for change, then we could say that authentic leadership is transformational.
However, I understand transformation as the most thorough form of change on a continuum that can be as "limited" as "adjustment".
Nevertheless, I understand "authentic" to be descriptive of the leader, and "transformation" to be descriptive of the change.

Authentic or Transformational Leadership
Adam mohammed Baba, Director, Ghana, Member
My understanding is that the word "authentic" refers to any leadership style or any leader who is able to induce trust and commitment of followers or who is able to engender high motivation among followers to attain organizational goals.
A leadership that is able to create emotional bond with followers, a leadership that is ready to serve. Therefore reference to "transformational" leader as authentic is on the premise that the leader is able to induce commitment and loyalty of followers as well as stimulating motivation to elicit the conviction of followers to share in his/her vision of transforming the organization from undesired situation to desired state.
In my opinion this makes the leader more authentic in the eyes of followers and all stakeholders. I admit that Robert's point is worth pondering over because it moves the debate to another dimension. He has challenged contributors to examine "authentic" as it is attributed to leadership. Well done Robert.

Authentic Leaders have In-built Character Traits
Ariyo Samson Olakunle, Manager, Nigeria, Member
The authenticity of a leader has to do with his/her in-built personal characters.
Which include: trust, integrity faithfulness and righteousness. It is possible for a leader to transform a nation, state or community positively and still not be trusted by his followers. You are authentic leader when the majority, especially the poor ones among your followers are sorrowful years after your death or when you are no longer in position. Authentic leaders are not made but inborn.

Try to be all that our potential allows...
Robert Sowell, Consultant, United States, Member
It is an ongoing, long-standing debate whether leaders are born or made. I will not claim any special insight for the debate.
I want to observe, however, that history includes many examples of those who have "learned" leadership: they have learned the necessary competence, the essential compassion, the required consistency, and the indispensable confidence. There is appeal for us to believe that leadership cannot be learned because that would mean that leadership is possible only for the predestined few.
Perhaps, instead, we could focus our energies on being all that our potential allows, continuously growing in competence, compassion, consistency, and confidence. If, along the way, someone begins to follow, then we have become a(n authentic, actual) leader, and there now is an additional motivation to strive for the fullest possible development and expression of our potential for the greatest possible benefit of those whom we serve (which means we've become an authentic leader, i.e., a morally good leader).

Leadership (Authentic versus Inauthentic)
Adam mohammed Baba, Director, Ghana, Member
I agree that not all transformational leaders are authentic. Hickman (2010) describes personalized transformational leaders who are pseudotransformational or inauthentic transformational leaders.
Though such leaders exhibit transformation tendencies, they are self-interested and self-aggrandizing. They are exploitative and power "drunk". They often lead followers to destruction, selfish and evil ends (eg. Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot).
In contrast, real transformational leaders not only exhibit but are truly concerned with the needs of followers, care about their individual development, and address their sense of self-worth. Transformational leaders treat followers as "end" and not just "means". Bill Gates of Microsoft corporation is regarded as one such leaders. Burns (1978) and Bass (1998b) have both come into conclusion that to be transforming, a leader must be " morally uplifting".

Cultivating Authentic Leadership
Dilip Khanal, CEO, Nepal, Member
It seems that authentic leadership can not be cultivated, rather it is developed through inner self of a person. If it is so, is it worth to discuss this topic. If it is not so, can someone share experience on how this can be cultivated, no matter in whatsoever scale.

Authentic Leadership can be Cultivated
Robert Sowell, Consultant, United States, Member
Mr. Khanal, as we have been discussing, it's important that we are clear about what we mean by "authentic leadership", whether it is leadership that really is leadership or whether it is leadership that expresses ethical integrity.
In either case, however, authentic leadership can be cultivated. You are accurate in observing that part of the cultivation is in the "inner self", but a deliberate effort to plant, grow, and tend authenticity is cultivation, whether by the person herself or himself alone, or with the assistance of others.
People can learn the consistency, compassion, competence, and confidence that are essential to leadership. And people can learn ethical integrity. Learning all of these qualities requires, as learning does, accurate knowledge, insightful understanding, and applied practice.
And, in fact, it is even possible for deep, inner spiritual transformation to occur. All of these processes can be primarily initiated by oneself and catalyzed and guided by others. So no doubt, authentic leaders can be cultivated.

Authentic Leadership Can Be Cultivated and Reproduced
Adonis, Business Consultant, France, Member
AL is not only cultivatable but reproductible too:
- To acquire the abilities for understanding and guiding humans is a question of the right socialization, coupled with some excellence, if I can be laconic about it.
- Cultivating it is a question of the right exchange and transmission, appropriate "data" and "processes" are also to be considered.

Authentic Leadership Tools
Alain Kambaja, Director, Senegal, Member
What tools can one use to become self- aware (Authentic)?
How do you integrate this value at all levels of your life (personal, work, etc.)?

Tools to Use to Be Self-aware: Authentic Leadership Questionnaire
Victor Manuel Monteiro Seco, Entrepreneur, Portugal, Member
The Authentic Leadership Questionnaire from Avolio et al (2005), includes some questions that could help us to reflect about our own and other people's self-awareness.
In fact, self awareness refers to the knowledge that the leader has about her/his strengths and weaknesses.
It also encompasses the knowledge of others, and in particular a consciousness of how the leader's conduct impacts others.
The scales rated in the Authentic Leadership Questionnaire (ALQ) are:
- Self Awareness: To what degree is the leader aware of his or her strengths, limitations, how others see him or her and how the leader impacts others?
- Transparency: To what degree does the leader reinforce a level of openness with others that provides them with an opportunity to be forthcoming with their ideas, challenges and opinions?
- Ethical/Moral: To what degree does the leader set a high standard for moral and ethical conduct?
- Balanced Processing: To what degree does the leader solicit sufficient opinions and viewpoints prior to making important decisions?
There is an online version of the ALQ avaliable here ($).

Authentic Leadership Tools: The Concentric Leadership Model
Gregory Johnson, Coach, United States, Premium Member
The Concentric Leadership Model (CLM) provides a pervasive look at the Authentic Leader. When having a feeling of one's IMPACT on self, business/organization and all elements present today and into the future, we are moving in the right direction.
See, leaders must make a difference or they are not leaders. Leaders should be aware of the assets they bring to any and all situations. Leaders should have a sense of the impact of their presence, decisions and vision has on a broad spectrum of people and situations.
There are internal IMPACT and external INFLUENCERS that must be considered under the CLM.
Under this model one must first decide if sitting in the leadership role is for personal recognition or to make a difference. If the reason is the former, it can not be an authentic quest. If it is the latter, the CLM is a road map to success in becoming an Authentic Leader.

'Authentic' Leadership
Robert Sowell, Consultant, United States, Member
Talk of so-called "authentic" leadership can sound noble, but the crucial thing is for us to be real about what happens "on the ground" everyday. This requires us to be clear regarding what we mean by "authentic":
- Do we mean genuine, as opposed to artificial?
- Morallly good, as opposed to evil?
- Trustworthy, as opposed to unreliable?
So, a "genuine" leader, one who really is a leader, is someone with followers. Having a position, having authority, even having a vision, doesn't define a leader. A leader is someone with followers.
Whether a leader is "good" depends entirely on the standards by which one is measuring good. And a reliable leader, one that followers trust, is consistent. A consistent leader is consistent in corrolating what is promised with what is delivered, is consistent in relating to followers predictably, and is consistent with followers expectations of leaders. Consistency is 1 of the 4 essential leadership qualities, i.e. what is required in order to acquire followers.

Improving Self Before Trying to Improve Others
Dilip Khanal, CEO, Nepal, Member
In my opinion, authentic leaders believe in improving self first. They also help improve their colleagues, superiors, subordinates and stakeholders. They don't care for position, honor and appreciation to do their job. They are basically guided by their conviction and greatly value others' opinion and emotions.

Authentic Leadership Powerpoint
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
We just added an interesting PowerPoint presentation on Authentic Leadership. It includes some of the latest thinking and a summary of several recent practical approaches. And a nice introduction video: 10 Choices that Authentic Leaders Make (Premium).

Who is the SELF?
Who is the SELF, is the question of authenticity. The "S"elf and "s"elf can be discovered by engaging in discovery of the ego. Otto Scharmers' Theory U is a great tool for this. If you would like to explore more some great tools are available at, including a free global classroom.

Authentic Leadership with a Coaching Mindset?
Gregory Johnson, Coach, United States, Premium Member
@Rebecca Roe: All references to "knowing yourself' are very much on point when considering the definition of Leadership. It's a tough definition and is contingent upon the person in certain settings with certain people with certain expectations.
We could replace the word "certain" with "variable" and be much closer to the spirit of being authentic.

I was struck with the recent proliferation of the concept we have come to recognize as Coaching. It would appear that a leader with a coaching mindset may be the most effective platform to build upon. This mindset may have qualities of an entrepreneurial vision while mastering (nonsexist) the skill and acceptance of having properties of one using the concept of Integrated Thinking. All of this morphs back to qualities of the individual and making a conscious effort to be open and honest in one's personal development, using entrepreneurial and Integrative Thinking in all interventions.

Special Interest Group Leader

Interested? Sign up for free.

Leadership Styles
Best Practices

Leadership Styles
Knowledge Center


Next Topic

About 12manage | Advertising | Link to us / Cite us | Privacy | Suggestions | Terms of Service
© 2019 12manage - The Executive Fast Track. V15.1 - Last updated: 25-8-2019. All names ™ of their owners.