Authentic Leadership

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Authentic Leadership

Matthew Stalsworth

Central Michigan University

Abstract

Authentic leadership is an emerging theory in recent years. This paper firstly introduces definitions of authentic leadership. Then discusses related viewpoints and approaches of authentic leadership. The authentic leadership questionnaire (ALQ) is a measurement tool used in authentic leadership and is briefly reviewed. Finally, I make suggestions for future research in the study authentic research theory.

Authentic Leadership

Have you ever said that a person is a born leader? Have you ever noticed how some people seem to be more authentic about themselves than others? Is it instinct, an in born personality trait, or is authentic leadership learned? What unique qualities do authentic leaders possess? How come there are so few authentic leaders? How is authentic leadership recognized? Can anyone actually become an authentic leader? Can we assume that authentic leadership is the best type of leadership?

Over the last few decades, many people have asked these questions. As a result, the topic of leadership has gained the attention of researchers worldwide and a multitude of books has been published. As Northouse (2013) points out, leadership is a complex process, “as many as 65 different classification systems have been developed to define the dimensions of leadership and there are almost as many different definitions of leadership as there are people who have tried to define it” (p. 2). As someone in a position of leadership, it is essential to recognize and develop a personal style they can implement.

Authentic leadership is presented as a root construct of all positive, effective forms of leadership (Avolio et. al., 2005), including spiritual, ethical, servant, and transformational leadership. Avolio (2003) defines authentic leadership in organizations as “a process that draws from both psychological capacities and a highly developed organizational context, which results in both greater self-awareness and self-regulated positive behaviors on the part of leaders and associates, fostering positive self-development.” Through both the organizational and personal perspectives, it is assumed that authentic leaders develop higher levels of self-awareness and self-regulated positive behaviors in leaders and followers, with the result being positive self-development in each (Avolio, 2003). Ethics are inherent in transformational leadership theory, as long as the behaviors enacted are valid. Behaving in a manner true to beliefs about leadership makes such leaders authentically transformational. In such a manner, transformational leaders produce better organizational outcomes than other forms of leadership, and inspire followers to go beyond the call of duty (Bass, 1985). As theoretically developed, authentic leadership does not explicate the mechanisms to achieve the proposed outcomes for both leaders and followers of positive self-development and positive psychological states (Avolio & Gardner, 2005).

Authentic leadership, as outlined by its proponents (see Avolio & Gardner, 2005), is ethical in nature. However, a description of authentic leaders based on a more accurate definition of authenticity suggests authentic leaders know whom they are and what they believe. Plus, authentic leaders are transparent and consistent in their values and actions, though not necessarily ethical or altruistic. Authentic leaders are able to develop positive psychological states such as confidence, hope, optimism, and resilience in themselves and followers producing positive self-development in each (Luthans and Avolio, 2003).

Authentic Leadership is characterized by the ability of a leader to be genuine, and real. The world is filled with deceit, betrayal, corporate scandal, and failure. People are becoming more and more fearful of...
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