Free Authentic Leadership Essay Sample

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Leadership, Leader, Knowledge, Development, Organization, Ethics, Trust, Emotions

Pages: 9

Words: 2475

Published: 2023/02/22


The concept of leadership has primarily been of interest for numerous years. In the present changing, international environment, the concept of leadership primarily holds the answer to the success of people, organizations, sectors, regions, and states. Leaders influence their juniors to achieve an objective by applying their leadership skills and knowledge. Sharma & Jain (2013) define leadership as a process by which an individual influences others to achieve an objective and guides an organization in a manner that makes it more coherent and cohesive. From this definition, we understand that leaders influence a group of people to realize a mutual goal. Ideally, leaders create a stimulating vision for the future, motivate individuals to engage with it, manage its delivery, and coach a team to facilitate its realization. The different types of leadership styles include autocratic, authentic, democratic, laissez-faire, and bureaucratic, among others. The present paper delves into authentic leadership approach. The paper also evaluates the importance of authentic leadership and gives examples of the authentic leaders.
Authentic leadership results in self-regulated positive behaviors and self-awareness on both leaders and associates. Luthans & Avolio (2003) describe authentic leadership as a style that leads to both greater self-awareness, as well as, self-regulated positive behaviors of both followers and leaders, fostering positive self-development. As a leadership approach, authentic leadership centers on the positive attainments instead of laying emphasis on flaws. In essence, an authentic leader promotes the trust of the followers and, as a result, leads to unconventional idea proposition and higher emotional safety. According to Ilies, Morgeson & Nahrgang (2005), the process of authentic leadership positively influences self-awareness, as well as, self-regulated positive behaviors of both followers and leaders, and stimulates self-development and positive personal growth. Authentic leadership approach gives emphasis to building the legitimacy of a leader through truthful relationships with the followers that value their input (Gardner, Cogliser, Davis, & Dickens, 2011). It is worth noting that authentic leadership is suitable for inspiring innovativeness and creativity. The primary components, which form the core of authentic leadership approach, include relational transparency, self-awareness, unbiased processing, and internalized moral perspective.
With reference to the component of relational transparency, an authentic leader ought to be open and honest with others. The relational transparency of an authentic leader entails an individual’s true interior presentation (Cerne, Jaklic, & Skerlavaj, 2013). In essence, relational transparency involves valuing, as well as, struggling to realize truthfulness and openness in leader-follower relationships. The leader should be transparent in linking inner values, expectations, and desires to the way he/she behaves in everyday interactions with the followers and associates. The relational transparency demands an authentic leader to be transparent with his/her motives, feelings, and inclinations in order to build trust and foster cooperation and teamwork in the followers. The openness and self-disclosure in an authentic leader according to Kernis (2003), encourages trust in leader-follower relationship, in which feelings and true thoughts are expressed, and information shared while reducing the expressions of wrong feelings.
Ideally, the relational transparency component of authentic leadership approach suggests that high levels of trust are realized when a leader is extremely open and honest with his/her followers and associates. The trust built can either be conditional or unconditional trust. The shared values of the individuals result in unconditional trust. In essence, the confidence that people have in each other values develops unconditional trust. It is worth noting that the repeated behavioral interactions back the unconditional trust developed. Consequently, authentic leaders experience unconditional trust since they interact with their juniors with truthfulness and openness and, as a result, earn their confidence in some measure due to both the repeated behavioral interactions and shared values. The unconditional trust that develops between autocratic leaders and their followers and associates results in the free exchange of information and knowledge (Ilies, Morgeson & Nahrgang, 2005). Interestingly, the free exchange of information and knowledge between autocratic leaders and their followers brings about positive outcomes, for example, team satisfaction and improved performance. The followers perceive authentic leaders to be supportive of their novel ideas and, as a result, this results in creativity and innovation in the organization.
In relation to the component of self-awareness, an authentic leader is someone who is conscious of self-characteristics, cognitions, motives, feelings, and values. In addition, this individual understands his/her intrinsic contradictory self-aspects, as well as, what role these contradictions play in manipulating his/her actions, feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Cerne, Jaklic, & Skerlavaj (2013) suggest that authentic leaders observe and examine their mental state through introspection during the self-awareness process. Self-awareness process makes individuals learn about and accept their fundamental feelings, values, goals/motives, or identity, translating into more authentic leadership. Ideally, self-awareness in authentic leaders takes place when they become aware of what constitutes their existence in the context in which they function over time. The elements of self-awareness that are relevant to authentic leadership development as identified by Avolio and Gardner (2005) include emotions, values, motives/goals, and cognitions regarding identity. An authentic leader’s positive emotions build positive upward spirals in organizational transformation. The positive emotions in authentic leaders spread and resonate through the processes of social contagion to positively nurture cognitive and emotional development of the followers. Values play an imperative role in the emergence, as well as, development of the authentic leadership.
Self-awareness is the degree to which the authentic leaders are cognizant of a variety of aspects of their identities in addition to the degree to which their self-perceptions are congruent with how their followers perceive them (Gardner, Avolio, Luthans, May, & Walumbwa, 2005). The relationship between the followers and the authentic leader is primarily characterized by positive and open exchanges as they pursue collective and complementary goals, which deeply reflect overlapping and held goals. Authentic leaders know their limitations, strengths, and emotions (Sparrowe, 2005). The self-aware authentic leaders do not hide their weaknesses or mistakes out of fear of appearing weak. In fact, they show their true selves to their followers and do not act in one way when they are in a private place and another when they are in a public place. What’s more, these leaders know that being self-actualized is an unending journey that is never complete.
Concerning the component of unbiased processing, an authentic leader is an individual who can listen to, interpret, and process positive and negative information in an objective method prior to taking any action or making decisions. High levels of trust, positive affect, and respect characterize the leader-follower relationships when leaders demonstrate unbiased processing of self-relevant information (Avolio & Gardner, 2005). Unbiased processing in authentic leaders is primarily determined by their character and integrity since the two have implications for the well-being of these leaders and influence on their actions and decisions. According to Kernis (2003), unbiased processing involves not ignoring, denying, exaggerating, or distorting the externally based evaluative information, internal experiences, and private knowledge. For this reason, an authentic leader is a person who does not ignore, repudiate, exaggerate, or misrepresent his/her internal experiences, external information, and private knowledge. The integrity and character guide the authentic leaders when listening to, interpreting, and processing both positive and negative information.
The decisions that authentic leaders make, as well as, the actions they take are usually flawless. According to Mazutis & Slawinski (2007), the authentic leaders who exhibit unbiased processing nurture honest, open, and transparent conversations that can have a significant impact on how their employees learn to detect and rectify errors and construe shared meanings. These leaders interpret task feedback accurately and estimate their level of skill well. In addition, unbiased processing requires leaders to accept their negative and positive attributes, qualities, and aspects. In essence, the component of unbiased processing requires the authentic leaders to focus on both negative and positive interpretations about themselves along with their leadership style. It is important to note that unbiased processing helps authentic leaders self-assess their abilities accurately and use the gained knowledge in communicating with their followers. The authentic leaders are required to implement tools, which nurture the uncovering and rectification of individual biases in the formal feedback mechanisms of their organization.
The component of internalized moral perspective describes a self-regulation process whereby an individual claiming to be an authentic leader align his/her values with own actions and intentions. Darvish & Rezaei (2011) imply that authentic leaders possessing internalized moral perspective capabilities manage confronting conflicts and tensions between the organizational responsibilities and their personal values since they say what they mean and mean what they say. As a result, an authentic leader exhibits consistency in what he/she says and what he/she does.
The internalized moral perspective component of authentic leadership approach implies that the actions of authentic leaders are based on their convictions and values. In essence, what these leaders say ought to be consistent with what they essentially believe. Furthermore, authentic leaders have a higher level of integrity since they act in line with what they believe and their values. Authentic leaders do not act to advance their personal interest, gain popularity, or please an audience hence they are highly transparent. It is worth noting that authentic leaders possess an ethical core. Ideally, authentic leaders are driven by a concern for fairness and ethics. Moreover, the internalized moral perspective component of authentic leadership approach dictates that authentic leaders should possess high internal moral standards, which are based on their beliefs and values. What’s more, the society and other outside pressures should not easily compromise the values and beliefs of authentic leaders.
Apart from the described elements, there are some other elements, which influence the development of authentic leadership. One of these factors is moral reasoning. In essence, moral reasoning is the capacity of an authentic leader to make ethical decisions. According to Hannah, Lester, & Vogelgesang (2005), the self-awareness nurtures higher levels of moral reasoning in the authentic leaders that in return influences such leaders positively and eventually the moral behavior of the followers. In essence, the capacity of a leader to make ethical decisions enables them to make more balanced decisions, which serve the greater good of their followers. The second factor that influences authentic leadership is positive psychological capacities of leaders. Ideally, authentic leaders are required to have the positive attributes of resilience, optimism, hope, and confidence as indicated by Luthans & Avolio (2003). The attributes mentioned above make leaders well prepared for challenges and inspire their followers. The other factor that influences the development of authentic leadership approach is critical life events. The negative and positive critical life events in authentic leaders act as change catalysts and help promote learning, understanding, and individual growth.
Authentic leadership is important due to a number of reasons. Firstly, the followers perceive authentic leaders as natural and true leaders, who are trustworthy and have high levels of integrity. For this reason, authentic leadership is imperative because the trustworthy high levels of integrity in authentic leaders make them empowering role models to the followers. The authentic leaders lead in a way that their followers see as authentic. The followers trust these leaders because their leadership is characterized by openness, transparency, and self-disclose. The followers on their part try to become authentic and embrace positive values of authenticity within the organizations. The followers emulate their authentic leaders and, as a result, this leads to improvement in performance. According to Seco & Lopes (2013), the authenticity of the leaders in exercising their positive qualities of character help their followers face the trust deficit and rising complexity. Consequently, authentic leaders impact their followers positively and help them realize their goals.
Secondly, authentic leadership facilitates the creativity and innovation in the organizations. Authentic leaders have the capability of identifying the talents of their followers and nurture these talents into strengths through relationships. In essence, authentic leadership stimulates creativity and innovativeness since authentic leaders are open to change and experience and tolerant to ambiguity. In addition, authentic leaders guide their followers through the personal identification process and, as a result, create positive psychological capital in them. As team leaders, authentic leaders affect creative performance and creative behavior of their followers by influencing their perceptions of a climate that is supportive of innovation and creativity (Wong & Laschinger, 2013). In essence, authentic leaders increase their followers’ creativity through leading by example.
Additionally, authentic leadership is important because it facilitated the creation of teamwork in the organization. Authentic leaders require their followers in order to succeed. Authentic leadership enables the creation of strong relationships in the organizations. Authentic leaders create remarkable support teams in their organizations to help them stay in the right direction. In essence, during the times of uncertainty, the teams support the leaders and help them during the difficult times. Authentic leaders establish the long-lasting relationship for a common purpose and shared values (Novicevic, Harvey, Ronald, & Brown-Radford, 2006). It is worth noting that the leader-followers relationships created thanks to authentic leadership enable teamwork and eventually improvement in performance.
The other importance of authentic leadership is that it embraces transformation in the organizations. Ideally, authentic leaders are known as change agents and are the first ones within the organizations to embrace the change that they espouse. As a result, these leaders set the examples for their followers. Authentic leaders do what is best for the organizations they lead. Through creating communities that work, authentic leaders lead to the transformation of their organizations. In essence, authentic leaders nurture friendships among their co-workers. The established leader-followers’ friendships facilitate the realization of the desired transformation in the organizations.
The examples of authentic leaders include Martin Luther King, Jr., Oprah Winfrey, and Warren Buffet, among others. All the leaders mentioned above exemplified authenticity through speaking openly to others and being in touch with themselves. In essence, all of them possess the basic characteristic of authentic leaders. As a prominent African Civil Rights Movement leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., had many characteristics of an authentic leader. For example, Martin Luther King was primarily a leader who led the charge. He led by example in the African Civil Rights Movement. In addition, Martin Luther King was consistent in what he said and what he did. As an authentic leader, Oprah Winfrey has been very open about her painful childhood. Warren Buffet, a talented businessman, and savvy investor exhibits numerous characteristics of an authentic leader. These leaders understand their values well and behave toward other people based on these values. Authentic leaders understand who they are, where they are heading, and the right thing they are supposed to do. As an authentic leader, Warren Buffet exhibits an open-minded opinion of free market capitalism. What’s more, Buffet’s commitment to the society matches his enthusiasm for the business.
Conclusively, it is obvious that authentic leaders are genuine and self-aware. They clearly understand their emotions, weaknesses, and strengths. These leaders also do not act in a different way when they are in private and public places. Additionally, it is understandable that authentic leaders do not only lead to their minds, but lead with their hearts. Authentic leaders are also mission-driven and center on results. In essence, these leaders put the organizations’ goals and missions ahead of their self-interest. Authentic leaders are not motivated by power or money but are motivated by the final outcomes.


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