- Self-actualized person who is aware of strengths, limitations, and emotions and also shows real selves to followers;
- Able to put the mission and the goals of the organization ahead of own self-interest;
- Consistently talk truth;
- Exerting influence, having impact, and exercising integrity;
- More interested in empowering employees than in money or personal power;
- Leads with heart, not just mind;
- Having a lot of courage in being a visionary and focus on the long-term;
- Build teams and create communities;
- Demonstrating initiative(s);
- Committed to excellence rather than perfection;
- Draw their inspiration from their own lives;
- Leaving a legacy.
In the post ‘Servant leadership’ I touched the meaning of added attribute(s) to the word ‘leadership’. Let me continue the subject with another example.
‘Authentic leadership’ puts an important stress on building leader’s legitimacy through honest relationships with followers (their input is appreciated) and is built on the ethical foundation thusly being able to improve individual and team performance (from: Wiki).
Authenticity has been explored throughout history, already in times of Greek philosophers. The ‘Authentic Leadership’ book written by Bill George in 2003 got the highest level of acceptance as part of a modern management science.
From the above definitions I am still not able to differentiate “authentic leadership” from just “leadership” since all the above are characteristics that an excellent leader has. But let’s clarify further.
Throughout my working carrier in different organizations I had different bosses. I remember a boss that seemed to evoke many negative emotions. Although I was still young at the time I was convinced that my performance was really good, but I still mostly overlooked. My boss was quite formal with me, sometimes appeared even tense if I compare his attitude toward the other fellow-workers. When others got great work projects, wage raises, but I was never even considered despite my obvious and impressive skills as perceived from other co-workers. My impressions of the boss and his ability were for him to be divisive, unfair, unappreciative, moody, and definitely prone to favoritism. Years later, with more working miles, as well as being a boss myself too, I've learned that human relations are two way street. If I want to get appreciation I should give one too. If I want to change the communication I should start changing it. If I want to transform attitudes others have toward me I’m the first one to modify them. Most of relationships are to be evaluated and given effort and attention to. To be able to do this, relationships are to be appreciated for the learning opportunities they hold. And this is the root of a leadership - it does not need any attributes attached.
Finally, I’m still puzzled if the above descriptions are what most would describe as “authentic leadership” or is it just another term for otherwise perfectly normal relationship at work between a leader and employees?