What is Authentic Leadership?

A person’s leadership style is influenced by their individual differences. That is to say, personal history and life triggers. Moreover, it shows what is important to the leader. Authentic Leadership is being true to oneself. This means the negation of self-deception. Self-deception is “denying or rationalizing away the relevance, significance, or importance of opposing evidence and logical argument.” Therefore, we can see that this type of leadership involves being explicitly honest with yourself.

According to research, employee perceptions of authentic leadership are the strongest predictor of employee job satisfaction. Job satisfaction includes organisational commitment and work happiness. Research has shown a positive relationship between the authentic leadership and employee performance.

What do Authentic Leaders possess?

You can divide authenticity into four components. These include:

  1. Full awareness and knowledge of your needs, values, feelings.
  2. Acceptance of your positive and negative attributes.
  3. Acting in line with your true self (without influences of pleasing others, gaining reward or to avoid punishment)
  4. A relational orientation that places emphasis on openness and truthfulness in personal relationships.

Leaders have several behavioural tendencies. But with studies pertaining to authentic leadership, four main characteristics are involved. As seen above, they are namely, self-awareness, relational transparency, balanced processing and moral perspective. 

Characteristics of the Authentic Leader

Self-awareness is having a deep understanding and insight in yourself. Which includes having knowledge of your own nature. This means knowing your own strengths and weaknesses. Self-awareness is a tool that can unlock the individual’s ability to comprehend. It allows a certain natural behaviour change. 

Relational transparency talks about having openness and truthfulness in relationships. This part of of authentic leadership has a lot to do with self-disclosure. Which basically means sharing personal information. In other words, your thoughts, dreams, fears and goals. It’s an important way to strengthen relationships and build trust.  

Balanced processing is fancy term for trying to have an open and engaging environment. For example, seeking different perspectives. Above all, perspectives that challenges your own. Balanced processing means analyzing the perspectives of others in an objective way. Most importantly with no distortions, denials or exaggerations. 

Moral perspective is the last point. Moral perspective should ground leaders in morality. Most importantly, possessing ethical behaviour. So this means that there should be no gap between their values and their everyday action. As your everyday actions truly display what you values are.

Authentic Leadership - organizational-performance-schuitema-group-articles


The effect of attaining Authentic Leadership

Authentic Leadership needs all four of the elements to be true. According to research, if all four are to be true,  subordinates view them as authentic. Therefore, it is more likely that subordinates will want to follow their leaders. Authentic leaders create dynamic interactions. As to encourage questions and debates. After that, they will formulate solutions that come from their subordinates. Leaving the subordinates to feel that they have come up with the solution. Consequently, this helps employees to feel that they have made a contribution. Which is an important element in being part of a collective.

Authentic leaders actions come from a positive psychological state. Naturally, authentic leaders influence their subordinates. This means that their positive psychological state has a domino effect on their team. Authentic leadership is in the category of positive forms of leadership. And according to research, positive leadership is the future. Subsequently, having a critical role to play in organisations and society.

So what does this mean?

Authentic leaders have to be truthful and explicit with themselves. This is not an easy journey to trek. But as a result of it, the morale of your team can increase. Taking a deeper look at yourself can allow for greater good. Self-reflection isn’t fun, but its always rewarding.

The Care & Growth Model encourages us to look at our behaviour. Do we show up to take? Or do we show up to give? If we show up to take, it reduces our energy and feels heavy. Whereas, if we show up to give, it allows us to care for others. It allows us to focus of growing others. And as a result, we feel ourselves reaching our full potential. Showing up to give means that you are in a positive psychological state. It means that your state will influence your team. Subsequently, possessing some traits of an Authentic leader. (half way there!)

In conclusion, introspection is the first sep to becoming a great leader. And great leaders don’t need to have a great following. A great leader is one who shows up to give. Someone who knows how to demonstrate care. Someone who makes sure that they enable the next person. Namely in the form of giving them the means to do the task. Making sure they have the ability to do the task. And providing the authority to perform the task. And lastly, holding them accountable.

How is that looking inwardly, makes a difference on the outside? That’s the beauty of the human-being. Our innate behaviour is to give. To be a part of something bigger. Embrace it!

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