I Want to be an Authentic Leader When I Grow Up
Nancy Kaur
9 June 2021

I want to be an authentic leader when I grow up? But what does that mean?

Authentic leaders are aware of their own and other people’s values/morals, knowledge, and strengths. Leadership theorists perceive authentic leadership to be the root concept or foundation to all forms of positive leadership. Authentic leadership answers whether or not leaders’ intentions are sincere and useful to others and the organisation or are instead negative and immoral. Authentic leaders live life according to their beliefs and feelings and not because of political favours or agendas.

An authentic leaders’ positive moral perspective, self-awareness, balanced processing, relational transparency, positive psychological capital, and authentic behavior as dimensions of authentic leadership. A key attribute of authentic leaders is their ability to implement balanced processing (this includes the ability to be objective when considering the worth of difference pieces of evidence, listening to others and weighing multiple perspectives before acting on or deciding). Relational transparency (being open and understanding about feelings) and having positive psychological capital are also attributable to authentic leaders.

Authentic leadership has emerged from the frustration of the decades of immoral, unethical corporate decision-making. One difference between authentic leaders and transformational leaders is that authentic leaders understand their emotions and how they inform decisions and affects others around them. This means that authentic leaders are characterised by their behaviours – especially their practice of role-modelling transparent and ethical behaviour that accepts multiple views in solving problems and specifically encourages their employees to share information required to make decisions.

Authentic leaders motivate and empower employees by embedding structures and a culture of bi-directional communication that encourages employees to contribute ideas and perspectives as well as including coaching and constructive feedback.

These types of leadership actively support employees to find meaning at work, and their actions build openness and optimism about what is possible at work and commitment in others. Their management actions are transparent (no favouritism), which in turn, tends to promote employees to have transparent relationships with others.

These actions build trust and employees tend to feel included and a part of a workplace. As such, the workplace is healthier.  In reality, “Authentic leadership is the full expression of “me” for the benefit of “we”.”-Henna Inam, Wired for Authenticity: Seven Practices to Inspire, Adapt, & Lead.

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