Authentic Leadership Effectiveness (ALE)

What does leadership authenticity mean?

For me, leadership authenticity, simply stated, is to be true to one self and one’s leadership purpose, with a strong moral underpinning (more important than ever), 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. It is also a servant, rather than self-serving leadership, and it manifests across multiple contexts; not only at work but also outside work. Mr Nelson Mandela, the first president of a democratic South Africa, was and still 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 the book, entitled ‘Authentic Leadership Effectiveness for Individuals and Teams – a Coaching Approach’.

The benefits of authentic leadership

In the academic literature on authentic leadership, it has been described as the foundation of numerous 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 positive 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 the book, entitled ‘Authentic Leadership Effectiveness for Individuals and Teams – a Coaching Approach’. For more information, click here to visit The definitive ALE Book.

How to develop authentic leadership


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 during his 27 years in prison.

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 the level of 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:

  1. discover ‘what makes them tick’ at a very deep level,
  2. to understand how their life experiences have informed their internal compasses that inform each and every leadership decision and behaviour on a daily basis,
  3. 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
  4. 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

Figure 1:  A Framework Illustrating the External and Internal Factors Driving the Development of an Authentic Leadership True North Internal Compass.

  1. finally, to build an Authentic Leadership Effectiveness Charter (ALEC), which outlines the outcomes to be achieved, the internal compass that guides us, and the leadership toolbox that allows us to build the skills required to achieve our outcomes. This charter can be updated from time to time, and can becoming a living document that guides us on a daily basis on the what and how we need to consider in achieving our outcomes.


Lencioni (2002) in his book ‘The Five dysfunctions of a Team’, states that it is not finance, not strategy, not technology, but teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and yet so rare.  This therefore is the difference between a smart and a healthy organisation. He continues that insufficient attention to results is often due to (figure 2):

  • Absence of trust which leads to
  • Fear of conflict, and therefore
  • Lack of commitment, resulting in
  • Avoidance of accountability

The pyramid of strength in an effective leadership team is therefore as follows (figure 3):

  1. A solid foundation of trust at the bottom of the pyramid, which leads to
  2. A freedom to have healthy disagreements, resulting in
  3. Commitment to a course of action and
  4. A willingness to be accountable, which leads to
  5. Achieving (and often exceeding) expected results

Figure 2: Team ineffectiveness

Figure 3: Team effectiveness

The link between individual and team ALE is that authentic leaders go first by develop trusting within themselves, which then allows them to build trust between themselves and others. Authentic leadership therefore is what is required to build the solid foundation of inter-relational trust, the foundation of effective leadership teams and organisations. Research has indicated that whilst authentic leadership is the root construct of various forms of positive leadership, it also equates to the highest level of effective leadership.

Research findings have shown that professional leadership cannot be fully effective without interpersonal leadership skills and behaviour in place. In turn, interpersonal leadership can be effective only once personal leadership has been developed, and it is often the development of personal leadership that requires the most work and leads to the most sustainable leadership effectiveness outcomes.

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 the book, entitled ‘Authentic Leadership Effectiveness for Individuals and Teams – a Coaching Approach’. For more information, click here to learn more about the definitive ALE Book.

The important thing to remember in times when organisations are with their backs to the wall, is not to cut back on leadership development, but rather to select a proven and powerful leadership development programme. The next important consideration is that leaders will yield results beyond their highest expectations as long as they have sufficient leadership development readiness, which includes taking ownership of the work they need to do, both individually and collectively as a team. The programme effectiveness has been proven!  Click here for more information on our ALE Programmes.

The Authentic Leadership Effectiveness Book

Until recently, the belief was that authentic leadership (AL), regarded as the highest form of leadership effectiveness, could be developed only during life events and leadership episodes. At best, one could develop authentic leadership through ‘life’s programme’! However, companies do not have a lifetime to wait for the development of such leadership! They need authentic leadership effectiveness now!

For the first time, the book entitled, ‘Authentic Leadership Effectiveness for Individuals and Teams’, written by me, Dr Tineke Wulffers, and published by Knowledge Resources (2017), changes all of this. Not only does it outline what AL is and immense impact it can have, but also how such leadership can be developed in an individual and team authentic leadership effectiveness programme.

Where to order

Book details

  • Authentic Leadership Effectiveness for Individuals and Teams

  • Dr Tineke Wulffers

  • ISBN: 9781869227067

  • Publishing Date: August 2017

South Africa