Authentic Leadership – Meaning, Advantages, Implementation & Limitation

In general, any action considered authentic should be accurate, valid, and genuine. On the other hand, it has separate evolution in ancient Greek philosophy, modern aspects, and the post-modern era as well. According to ancient Greek philosophy, authentic refers to ‘Be true to thyself”; 20th-century modernism emphasizes with its self-direction, reliability, and consistency), and postmodernism asks whether authenticity can exist in the period of many selves all touch on authenticity.

Therefore, the etymological meaning of authentic leadership means actions taken by genuine leaders. In this postmodernism, there is a lack of genuine, so authentic leadership is needed in all sectors (business, government, education, health, religious, and military). Top to bottom, authentic leadership should flow. Authentic leadership demands a theory-driven paradigm to support leadership development and provide researchable propositions.

Authentic Leadership – Meaning

When people lead in a way that is honest to who they are as people, they are exhibiting authentic leadership. Proponents of authentic leadership argue that such a manager is more likely to gain followers’ confidence, loyalty, and commitment, which in turn leads to better results.

Historical background –

The theory of authentic leadership, developed by Bill George, is typically represented as a circle with the title in the center and a layer of five subcategories of interconnected ideas on the outside. These items are Passion-driven goals and objectives. Behavior is based on a set of principles. When leaders are seen as genuine and “real,” they inspire trust and confidence in their followers. Bill George put out this theory in his 2003 book Authentic Leadership.

Features of Authentic Leadership –

This leadership style has certain advantages, such as;

  • Authentic leaders pursue long-term goals with purpose and vision.
  • Such kinds of leaders value genuine and truth, so they have a lot of self-control.
  • Such leaders have to be very disciplined to maintain self-control.
  • A true leader is confident in who they are. Their values guide everything they do
  • Authentic leaders tend to lead with compassion and empathy.
  • The course of actions of authentic leaders is based on truth and validness, so they are very self-aware
  • Authentic leaders develop relationships. They recognize others’ contributions and want them to succeed.
  • Transparency is a fundamental trait of a genuine leader since authenticity depends on being open and honest, so they always commit to self-improvement for their subordinates.
  • A true leader knows there are other options. They’re open to alternative perspectives and enjoy hearing them.

Advantages –

  • Open, honest communication can only occur in settings where trust has been developed, which exactly this phrase fosters. It’s much simpler to open up to a leader who’s on the same level as you than to try to communicate with one who keeps everyone at arm’s length. Giving criticism to someone open and friendly makes your job much more straightforward. Workers may be reluctant to voice their opinions or concerns if a manager or supervisor seems cold and uncaring.
  • Truthful leaders inspire confidence in their followers. Their team learns to accept them for who they are, warts and all.
  • Genuine leaders are self-aware enough to admit when they are wrong or lacking (as when they raise their hand in a meeting to ask clarifying questions) and honest enough to accept responsibility for their errors.
  • Authentic leaders prefer validness so workers can feel comfortable being open about their skills, asking for support when they need it, and voicing any concerns they may have
  • Alternatively, genuine leaders promote openness. Employees are more comfortable sharing their whole selves at work by fostering an open and honest culture.

Disadvantages –

True leaders often exhibit the following traits that are undesirable:

  • It raises the potential for controversy and strife in the workplace.
  • Authentic leaders highly monitor business operations, so it might create a situation of awkwardness for their employees because they cannot enjoy the openness
  • Leaders who are faithful to themselves tend to be less productive and need help setting priorities.
  • It is also an impactful situation where soliciting honest feedback from others might be awkward.
  • One may squander time and become less productive since one has trouble figuring out who the one is.

How to Implement?

Explore values

An authentic person follows genuine, so it is crucial for such a person to establish values in the business. It has become easier for an authentic leader to make such decisions based on values. It helps the leader and team to maintain a professional approach within the business.

Spread awareness

It has already been mentioned that authentic leaders focus on valid actions. Therefore, any biased and vague actions cannot be accepted under this leadership. As the leader only agrees with the truth, this approach only spreads awareness within the business operations because workers must be aware of their course of action to maintain legal and ethical codes of conduct at the time of employment.

Developing an open environment

In order to develop a leadership model, it is essential to establish proper etiquette for it. So, an open environment is required in this leadership because this leadership accepts a valid course of action. It is only humanly possible for some employees to have the right approach of effort in their performance. Moreover, in consequence, the leader would give feedback to make it correct. So, developing a positive environment for taking input and rectifying mistakes is also very important.

Real-life Examples –

Steve Jobs is a true leader in the modern era. Steve Jobs was forthright with himself and others and genuinely believed that Apple’s efforts benefited society. The practice of genuine leadership has just begun. Learning to be oneself, doing what’s “right,” being honest with others, serving the greater good, and gaining the life experiences that lead to maturation and greater authenticity are all necessary components of authentic leadership (Northouse, 2015, pg. 210).

The founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, was always forthright with him and others, and he always believed that the company’s efforts were beneficial to society as a whole. Author Walter Isaacson of the Harvard Business Review described Steve Jobs as angry, irritable, and complex in his biography of the tech mogul. Many staff stuck with Apple despite its harsh management style because they shared their passion for its mission. Despite his flaws, Jobs was supported by dedicated coworkers and a devoted family because Jobs prioritized better services for its customers.


Their followers see genuine leaders as self-aware, morally upright, and optimistic. There is some overlap with other schools of thought on leadership that are more up-to-date, such as servant leadership, transformational leadership, and even spiritual leadership.

Reference List

Luthans, F. and Avolio, B.J., 2003. Authentic leadership development. Positive organizational scholarship, 241, p.258.

Gardner, W.L., Cogliser, C.C., Davis, K.M. and Dickens, M.P., 2011. Authentic leadership: A review of the literature and research agenda. The leadership quarterly, 22(6), pp.1120-1145.

Laguna, M., Walachowska, K., Gorgievski-Duijvesteijn, M.J. and Moriano, J.A., 2019. Authentic leadership and employees’ innovative behavior: a multilevel investigation in three countries. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(21), p.4201.

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