Executives across the globe have found that authentic leadership is critical to business success. However, authentic management is not enough to satisfy the vast array of organizational changes in today’s corporate world. Authentic leadership development is a necessary precursor to more effectively leading corporations. This article is to help executives have a better understanding of authentic leadership development.
Executive leadership training begins with your mission and vision. 1, 2, 3 Self-leadership is built upon the premise that you lay a solid foundation—one that is filled with the necessary tools to help you build the foundation for personal excellence. This article helps you build a better leadership presence and authentic leadership. To do this, apply the leadership competency of Authenticity.
When being an authentic leader or manager, it would help to consider the difference and how you would lead more effectively. Having a healthy, positive relationship with your followers is key to your success, and knowing if you are being authentic when dealing and communicating with them will improve your effectiveness when influencing behavior.4
The origins and foundations of authenticity are rooted in ancient Greek history where philosophers are known for moral injunctions such as ‘know thyself’ and ‘to thine own self be true’. 5,6 The term ‘authenticity’ has been defined as “owning one’s personal experiences, be they thoughts, emotions, needs, wants, preferences, or beliefs, processes captured by the injunction to know oneself and further implies that one acts in accord with the true self, expressing oneself in ways that are consistent with inner thoughts and feelings”.7 Julian Treasure, renowned voice and tone specialist calls being authentic as “Standing in Your Own Truth.”8
Harvard Business School professor Bill George says that if you want to be a real authentic leader, “you have to follow your true north. You have to be the real person that you’re called to be”.9 He also sheds light on authentic leaders as those chief executive officers who:
Recognize their shortcomings, and work hard to overcome them. They lead with purpose, meaning and values. They build enduring relationships with people. Others follow them because they know where they stand. They are consistent and self-disciplined. When their principles are tested, they refuse to compromise.10
Wharton School Professor Michael Useem says “if you don’t feel that you’re being the authentic you, and if you don’t really have a North Star yet, how can you develop that authenticity?”9 Similarly, other prominent scholars who are well-known in the Academy of Management, one of the largest leadership and management organizations in the world, by the names of Fred Walumbwa, Bruce Avolio, William Gardner, Tara Wernsing, and Suzanne Peterson see 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.11
Authentic Managers and Authentic Leaders
Authentic leadership and management are not a dichotomy.12, 13 At times, some leaders will be closer to five as opposed to being on an extreme one or ten. Let us review and score each dimension:
|Authentic Leadership vs. Authentic Management
|Doing things For Stakeholders
|Doing things for the least among us
|Coaching people From the lower Levels of the firm
|Evaluating People for their best
|Taking a proactive Approach to Mentorship
|Taking a reactive approach to problems in society
|Having a long-term perspective with resilience
|Having a short-term perspective to control problems
|Enhancing trust remotely
|Controlling subordinates by giving them a voice
|Innovating to Save time
|Performing functions once correctly
|Focusing on minoritized individuals and helping them
|Focusing on adiversified structure of optimization
|Challenging norms to reduce stereotyping
|Maintaining the status to secure jobs
Scoring a five on doing things for stakeholders or doing things for the least among us would be a high score. Focusing on stakeholders covers the least among us but given the fact that we must reach out to the least among us in both charitable and promotable ways is very important.
Scoring five on the second dimension, coaching people from the lower levels of the firm and evaluating people for their best potential would be a high score. Leaders need to be both a coach to followers and continuously evaluate them to help them reach their best potential.
Dimension three is an important viewpoint of authentic leadership. Leaders need to be proactive in mentoring followers and also take a proactive approach to problems in society. Thus, scoring closer to one on this dimension is the most appropriate score.
Dimension four is another important viewpoint for leaders to consider. A solid 4 to 6 would be a good score because having a long-term perspective with resilience is very important but also planning for the short term to control problems is also important. This is a strategic dimension with planning for both the short- and long-term.
Dimension five is an interesting perspective as leaders are more engaged in electronic leadership. A solid score of 4 would suffice because leaders want to be able to enhance trust remotely to keep subordinates satisfied while giving them a voice. The controlling part is less appealing but there is some control in developing the electronic leadership presence
Dimension six is a split decision of a solid score of 5 because innovating to save time along with performing functions “once” correctly is very important for authentic leaders and managers. This is Total Quality Management perspective.
Dimension seven is so important today as leaders need to initiate and manage diversity well. A solid score of 5 is best as leaders help minoritized individuals succeed coupled with a diversified structure or optimization.
Dimension eight is a trickier one. Challenging norms to reduce stereotyping is very important and securing jobs is also in demand right now and will continue to be. The trickier question is maintaining the status quo. While this may appear appropriate, it falls short of authentic leadership. Therefore, a score of 3 or 4 is the most appropriate for this final dimension.
The new business shifts have raised the fact that followers are facing an unprecedented time with disruptions. Thus, being a great authentic leader is most appropriate. Given the fact that so many more things can be considered as a dimension, this article opens up a rich discussion that is necessary for recovery and fortitude moving forward.
About the Authors
Mostafa Sayyadi works with senior business leaders to effectively develop innovation in companies and helps companies—from start-ups to the Fortune 100—succeed by improving the effectiveness of their leaders.
Michael J. Provitera is a senior faculty professor of Management and Leadership, in the Andreas School of Business at Barry University, Miami, Florida, USA . He is an author of Level Up Leadership: Engaging Leaders for Success, published by Business Expert Press.
- Cardona, P., Rey, C. (2022). Missions-Driven Leadership. In: Management by Missions. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-83780-8_9
- Keeler, G.R. (2020). Establishing your Vision, Mission, and Strategy. In: Seropian, M., Keeler, G., Naik, V. (eds) Comprehensive Healthcare Simulation: Program & Center Development . Comprehensive Healthcare Simulation. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-46812-5_3
- Temkin, T. (2018). Mission, Vision, and Organizational Values. In: Farazmand, A. (eds) Global Encyclopedia of Public Administration, Public Policy, and Governance. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-20928-9_2603
- Sayyadi, M., & Provitera, M. (2021). Post-Pandemic Recovery, Fort Lauderdale, Florida: Motivational Leadership Training.
- Snyder, C.R., & Lopez S.J. (2002). Oxford handbook of positive psychology, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Avolio, B., & Gardner, W. (2005). Authentic leadership development: getting to the root of positive forms of leadership. The Leadership Quarterly, 16(3), 315-338.
- Harter, S. (2002). Authenticity. In C. S. Snyder, & S. J. Lopez (eds.), Handbook of Positive Psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Treasure, J. (2014, Jun 27). How to Speak so that People Want to Listen [Video file], Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/julian_treasure_how_to_speak_so_that_people_ want_to_listen/transcript?language=en