There has always been a need in the public and private sectors of business for leaders that are trustworthy and “authentic”. However, in most recent years with company scandals, economic instability, and companies cutting corners, has created fear and uncertainty in people. With employees and consumers feeling apprehensive and insecure, this has risen for the demand for leaders to be trustworthy and genuine. This has made Authentic Leadership one of the types of leadership a timely topic.
Authentic Leadership is one of the newest areas of leadership research. This type of leadership focuses on leaders that are “real”, that leads based on their values. This type of leadership is not innate or an attribute that only some people exhibit. Just like musicians and athletes, you must devote yourself in realizing your full potential and develop overtime. Everyone can develop authenticity and learn to be more authentic as a leader.
Taking a look at authentic leadership in a developmental approach, this type of leadership is not a personality trait, but a type of leadership style that is developed in an individual over time that is influenced by experiences and strong guiding ethics. Some components of authentic leadership have been drawn from positive psychology. These components are fostering a greater sense of self-awareness, internalized moral perspective, balanced processing of information, and relational transparency.
The demand for “authenticity” in leadership has made organizations to take a closer look at their business strategy and what they stand for. This has placed importance on making sure that the leaders of organization are in alignment of the overall strategy of the organization. Authentic leaders will only be successful if the overall culture and strategy of an organization will allow for authenticity to be a primary focus of their leaders.
Southwest airlines strategy allows authenticity to be enabled. Herb Kelleher, Southwest’s cofounder, lives up to his “employees first” policy by never laying off its people even when the rival carriers are. He has also been quoted saying “if you put your employees first and if you take care of them, then they will take good care of you. In return your customers will come back, and your shareholders will like that, so it’s really a unity.” Additionally, The Coca-Cola Company has an official list of seven “values” which includes “integrity” and “accountability”.
It is one thing for a leader to be authentic but when the organization itself values authenticity, by having their leaders lead in this type of leadership style; employees will value the organization and be motivated. This will in turn create trust with the public and create a solid foundation of customers.
Are you wondering if you are an authentic leader? Take a short break from your day and click here to be redirected to take the Authentic Leadership Self-Assessment Questionnaire. The questionnaire is a validated, theory based instrument that is comprised of 16 items that measures four factors of authentic leadership. This self-assessment will provide insight into your own level of authentic leadership and help understand how this type of leadership style is measured.