In this blog I will be discussing authentic leadership and a work example of when it can be very appropriate. Authentic leadership can be defined in different ways; interpersonal, intrapersonal, and developmental (PSU WC, L.12, p. 2). Interpersonal states that leadership comes from the relationship formed between the leader and follower. Intrapersonal has more to do with the leader and their self-awareness and trueness to self. The developmental idea supports that authentic leadership can learned or acquired, or potentially brought forth from crisis or a significant experience (PSU WC, L12, p.2). Northouse also discussed two different approaches to authentic leadership, these are the practical and the theoretical approaches (Northouse, 2016, p. 197). For the purposes of this discussion I will be referring primarily to the practical approach. The practical approach is based upon the work of Bill George and identifies the five dimensions of authentic leadership (George, 2003, as cited by Northouse, 2016, p.197). These dimensions of authentic leaders are:
Purpose – exhibited with – Passion
Values – exhibited by – Behavior
Relationships – established through – Connectedness
Self-Discipline – which builds – Consistency
Heart – exhibited by – Compassion
Some strengths of authentic leadership include that it can fill a need to rebuild trustworthy leadership, authentic leaders do what is right, put the followers first, and work for the common good of all (Northouse, 2016, p. 206). These were the exact qualities required following a challenging work situation several years ago. The company I worked for needed to hire a new general manager after the previous manager of 15 years moved up in his career to a new country club. The new general manager said all the right things to get the job and most department heads were looking forward to working with him and his new ideas. It did not take very long to realize this manager immediately played favorites, was often disrespectful to some co-workers, discussed other employees in derogatory manners with me and others, started to show signs in impropriety, and exhibited some harassing behavior. Over the course of less than one-year employee morale was at an all-time low. Several mid-level managers had left to due to unfavorable working conditions. I was considering freshening up my resume if things did not change soon. It was amazing to me that in such a short period of time an unethical, petty, and self-centered leader could bring down the team so much. His impropriety ultimately resulted in his resignation.
The club had better luck with the next search and understood the need to build team morale moving forward. The next general manager I would describe as an authentic leader. He was very purposeful and passionate about his work. He enlisted the employees to improve the club and rebuilt the desire to work toward common goals. He worked hard to foster relationships and empower the department managers to do the same. He developed the “spring kick-off” with team building activities and food trucks. He had high expectations of everyone, but also held himself to high expectations. He exhibited strong personal and family values which was something the team needed to see. He practiced, in some way, all five of the characteristics in Bill George’s practical approach to authentic leadership discussed above. He was genuine and sincere in his actions and behaviors. This rebuilt the trust, teamwork, and work ethic of the managers and all employees. I feel his style of authentic leadership was what the club needed to bounce back from a very bad leader. This example demonstrates a good scenario when authentic leadership qualities can be effective to get things back on track when building trust is a priority.
Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: theory and practice (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
Pennsylvania State University World Campus (2019). PSYCH 485 Lesson 12: Authentic Leadership, Retrieved from: https://psu.instructure.com/courses/2008237/modules/items/27074756