Kim Woods Only (600 6.1 Discussion)
Authentic leadership is both a practical and theoretical approach to leadership. As a practical approach, authentic leaders are those that lead passionately and with purpose, act with self-discipline based on strong values, and create quality relationships (Northouse, 2016, p. 197). In other words, they have a vision and work diligently toward it, do what’s right, develop trusting and compassionate connections with others, and are self-driven.
As a theoretical approach, authentic leadership is defined as “’a pattern of leadership behavior that draws upon and promotes both positive psychological capability and a positive ethical climate, to foster greater self-awareness, an internalized moral perspective, balancing processing of information, and relational transparency on the part of leaders working with followers, fostering positive self development’” (Northouse, 2016, p. 201). In other words, leaders can be authentic when they strongly aware of who they are, use ethical decision-making, consider all perspectives, and communicate openly with others.
The similarities between the practical and theoretical approach are that both include the use of ethics, integrity, self-discipline and self-knowledge, and transparent relationships. Both view authentic leadership as an ongoing process.
The differences are that the practical approach is an intrapersonal perspective in that it outlines the qualities of authentic leaders and how to develop them. On the other hand, the theoretical approach is a developmental perspective that identifies the components that define and create authentic leadership.
When I think of authentic leadership, I think of leadership born of strong character and virtue, in the service of the common good. The idea of character meaning, “I must value my character, be invested in it, see it as an end in itself” (The Picket Line, n.d.). The practice of virtue in authentic leadership means being honest, trustworthy, diligent, responsible, humble, and just (The Picket Line, n.d.). When leadership is based on strong character and virtue it will lead to trusting and open connections with others. This is similar to the high-quality exchanges that Leader-Member Exchanges theory suggests should be developed.
One strategy that leaders can use for authenticity is to continually seek personal mastery. Personal mastery is “a set of specific principles and practices that enables a person to learn, create a personal vision, and view the world objectively” (Grimsley, n.d.). As authentic leadership stems from knowing oneself, the discipline of personal mastery will help leaders reflect on life experiences to broaden their awareness of how things really are and to deepen their understanding of self.
Another strategy that can be used is being open to the ideas, feedback, and criticisms of others. There is much to learn if leaders can humble themselves and this practice of learning will help leaders stay grounded (George, Sims, McLean, & Mayer, 2007, p. 4,7).
George, B., Sims, P., McLean, A.N. & Mayer, D. (2007). Discovering your authentic leadership. Harvard Business Review, 85(2), 129- 138.
Grimsley, S. (n.d.) Personal Mastery and Peter Senge: Definition & Examples. [Video File]. Retrieved January 20, 2018, from http://study.com/academy/lesson/personal-mastery-and-peter-senge-definition-examples-quiz.html
Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and practice (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
The Picket Line. (n.d.) Twelve virtues to aspire to. Retrieved February 3, 2018, from https://sniggle.net/TPL/index5.php?entry=28Dec16
Over the past five years, distrust in leaders has begun to grow due to high profile scandals (George and McLean, 2007) creating a high demand for authentic leadership. Authentic leadership is about the authenticity of the leader and the leadership (Northouse, 2016) and is differentiated by using two different approaches; practical and theoretical. The practical approach originated from real-life examples, training, and development literature while the theoretical approach is based on findings from social science research (Northouse, 2016, p. 197). Going more in-depth, the practical approach provides the “how to” steps to be an authentic leader based off the five basic dimensions (Northouse, 2016, p.220); understand their purpose, have strong values, establish trusting relationships, demonstrate self-discipline based off values, passionate about their mission (Northouse, 2016, p. 197). The theoretical approach is based off four major components; self-awareness, internalized moral perspective, balanced processing, and relational transparency (Northouse, 2016, p. 220). Overall, the two approaches have the same desired end state however, they differentiate themselves based off the steps made to get there.
In my opinion, having an authentic leadership style is the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful leader. Authentic leaders genuinely care about their followers and organizational goals. Followers tend to display a greater level of respect and willingness towards authentic leaders.
Two strategies a leader can use for authenticity is being honest and a servant leader. By honesty I mean, if you have a follower that underperforms, let them know. Don’t go behind his/her back talking negatively about them or look for a new employee. Give a timeframe for the underperforming employee to change their ways and if they don’t, they get let go. Followers respect upfront honesty. As a servant leader, you serve the organization and your followers. A servant leader has a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of followers while building a better organization (Greenleaf, 2016).
George, B., Sims, P., McLean, A. N., & Mayer, D. (2007). Discovering Your Authentic Leadership. Harvard Business Review, 85(2), 129-138.
Greenleaf, R. (2016). What is servant leadership? Retrieved February 7, 2018, from https://www.greenleaf.org/what-is-servant-leadership/
Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and practice (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. ISBN: 978-1-4833-1753-3
Authentic Leadership focuses on providing the most authentic, genuine, and real version of the leader and the leadership (Northouse, 2016). It focuses on two approaches: practical and theoretical.
In the practical sense, leaders gain experience through hands-on approaches, training, and personal development. These leaders know who they are and what they believe in. They are driven by results and focus on long-term goals. They use their values to do what’s right and develop strong relationships through trust and compassion. This can be accomplished based on five basic dimensions: understanding purpose, having strong values, establishing trusting relationships, demonstrating self-discipline based off values, being passionate about their mission (Northouse, 2016, p. 197)
In the theoretical sense, authentic leadership is “a pattern of leadership behavior that draws upon and promotes both positive psychological capability and a positive ethical climate, to foster greater self-awareness, an internalized moral perspective, balancing processing of information, and relational transparency on the part of leaders working with followers, fostering positive self-development” (Northhouse, 2016, p. 201). Thus, they rely on patterns to grow, process information, and create a positive environment. This often stems from using social science research, and focusing this effort in developing four major components: self-awareness, internalized moral perspective, balanced processing, and relational transparency (Northouse, 2016, p. 220).
Thus, these two aspects seem very similar in their goals. Both want positive climates and networks, self-awareness, and transparency (strong values). However, they do appear to be different in the route they take. Practical seems to be more focused on self-development through hands on approaches while theoretical uses patterns and theory.
To me, authentic leadership is based on being authentic or genuine. These leaders have strong self-awareness, understand themselves, and thus do what is natural to them. These are not leaders that have to “fake it until they make it” but rather, they have developed a strong personal mastery and can use this to inspire and attract followers. They have integrity, accountability, and strong values that can be passed on to those around them.
The two strategies a leader can use are: 1. Personal mastery and 2. Constructive criticism. Personal mastery is developing yourself with a personal purpose statement in which you can grow to achieve (Senge, 2006). In this, a personal can become self-actualized and be authentic. The other one can be used is to elicit constructive criticism. This can help the leader grow, learn from successes and failures and always be improving.
Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: theory and practice (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.
Senge, P. (2006). The fifth discipline: The art & practice of a learning organization. New York, NY: Currency/Doubleday