Authentic Leadership

Key Idea

At the heart of authentic leadership is a commitment for a leader to know and develop oneself. Authentic leaders avoid self-deception by fiercely examining their behaviors and decisions, genuinely asking for feedback on how to improve performance. The authentic leader acts upon his or her values and beliefs, and inspires others to do the same. 

Book to Read

True North: Discover your Authentic Leadership 
by Bill George and Peter Sims (2007)

Quick Take from the Book

There are four dimensions of an authentic leader:

  1. Self awareness (the leader is aware of his or her strengths, limitations, the perceptions of others toward their leadership, and how the leader impacts others).
  2. Transparency (the leader is perceived as genuine and sincere, rather than phony or manipulative).
  3. Ethical/Moral (the leader sets a consistent and high standard for moral and ethical conduct).
  4. Balanced Processing (the leader asks for help, soliciting opinions and viewpoints before making an important decision).

Quote of Note

"Authentic leaders…genuinely desire to understand their own leadership to serve others more effectively. 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 follower perceive and describe as authentic." 
— Bruce Avoilo and colleagues (scholarly article on authentic leadership, 2004)

Related Styles: Ontological LeadershipTransformational LeadershipPrincipled-centered Leadership

Return to List of Leadership Styles