For me, leadership authenticity, simply stated, is to be true to one self and one’s leadership position, for the greater good of all whom one serves. It starts with the self and, as it pertains to leadership, it needs to include others. It is a leadership beyond position, and a leadership that emanates from the presence of the leader. In response to the call for more ethical leadership, it appropriately includes a strong moral component. Mr Nelson Mandela, the first president of a democratic South Africa, is one of the best examples of an Authentic Leader.
More information on authentic leadership can be obtained from Chapter 2 ‘Defining Authentic Leadership’ in my book, entitled ‘Authentic Leadership Effectiveness for Individuals and Teams – a Coaching Approach’.
How authentic leadership benefits
In the academic literature on authentic leadership, it has been described as the root construct of various forms of positive leadership, and it has been found to equate to the highest form of leadership effectiveness.
In my research and practice, I have discovered that AL has a very positive influence on intra-personal and inter-relational trust, and once that trust is in place, it has a further effect on individual and team leadership effectiveness. Finally, developing AL can have a phenomenal impact on achieving organisational outcomes and business results.
More information on the benefits of individual and team authentic leadership effectiveness can be obtained from Chapter 3 ‘Applying Authentic Leadership’, chapters 7 ‘Detailed Case Study’, and Chapter 8, ‘High-Level Case Studies’ – in my book, entitled ‘Authentic Leadership Effectiveness for Individuals and Teams – a Coaching Approach’.
How authentic leadership can be developed
There are many questions about how AL can be developed! At times, it has even been said that such leadership cannot be developed by means of a programme, unless such programme could be called a ‘life’s programme’; with other words, through life events and leadership episodes, as Nelson Mandela had done, especially whilst in prison for 27 years.
However, not all companies can wait that long for such leadership to develop; they need ALE now! Can all leaders enhance their AL? This depends on the level of leader development readiness; meaning whether the leader is willing to embark on such a journey, and whether they have the cognitive ability to grow through such a journey.
The journey towards enhancing AL is not necessarily for the faint-hearted; nor is it a silver bullet. It requires the willingness and commitment of any leader or leadership team, to give the time and energy required to:
- discover themselves at a very deep level,
- to understand how their life experiences have informed their internal compasses that inform each and every leadership decision on a daily basis,
- to understand how to strengthen that compass into an internal AL Compass that will guide their leadership thoughts, feelings, beliefs about self and others, their values and purpose, and the internal identity that should ideally drive them from here onwards, and
- to reflect that self-regulation against their internal AL Compass in their behaviour and performance, for self and others to experience, as reflected in the following figure.
More information on the development of individual and team authentic leadership effectiveness can be obtained in Chapter 4 ‘Development of Authentic Leadership’, Chapter 5 ‘Criteria for an AL Programme’, and Chapters 6 and 7, ‘High-level and Detailed Overviews of an Authentic Leadership Programme’ – in my book, entitled ‘Authentic Leadership Effectiveness for Individuals and Teams – a Coaching Approach’.