In this article Bruce J. Avolio and William L. Gardner state that authentic leadership can make a fundamental difference in organizations by helping people find meaning and connection at work through greater self-awareness; by restoring and building optimism, confidence and hope; by promoting transparent relationships and decision making that builds trust and commitment among followers; and by fostering inclusive structures and positive ethical climates. Moreover, they have adopted a developmental focus as we seek to understand and explain how authentic leadership, authentic followership, authentic leader–follower relationships, and positive organizational climates promote sustained and veritable performance.
Leadership has always been more difficult in challenging times, but the unique stressors facing organizations throughout the world today call for a renewed focus on what constitutes genuine leadership. In this article former head of Medtronic, Bill George succinctly states “we need leaders who lead with purpose, values, and integrity; leaders who build enduring organizations, motivate their employees to provide superior customer service, and create long-term value for shareholders.” They also suggest a need to concentrate on the root construct underlying all positive forms of leadership and its development, which we label authentic leadership development or ALD.
Conceptual foundations and definitions:
The authors have trace the theoretical roots and foundations that underpin current conceptions of authentic leadership theory and in addition, presented definitions for the constructs of authenticity, authentic leaders, authentic leadership, and authentic leadership development, several of which are introduced, with the intent of clarifying these constructs at the very earliest stages of theory development. Authenticity
The concept of authenticity has its roots in Greek philosophy (To thine own self be true). Excellent reviews of the origins and history of authenticity within the fields of philosophy and psychology are provided by Harter and Erickson. Rogers and Maslow focused attention on the development of fully functioning or self actualized persons, i.e., individuals who are bin tune with their basic nature and clearly and accurately see themselves and their lives. Because fully functioning persons are unencumbered by others’ expectations for them, they can make more sound personal choices. Components of authentic leadership development.
Authentic leadership theory revisited
The authors believe authentic leadership can make a fundamental difference in organizations by helping people find meaning and connection at work through greater self-awareness; by restoring and building optimism, confidence and hope; by promoting transparent relationships and decision making that builds trust and commitment among followers; and by fostering inclusive structures and positive ethical climates.
Avolio, Luthans, and Walumbwa define authentic leaders as those who are deeply aware of how they think and behave and are perceived by others as being aware of their own and others values/moral perspectives, knowledge, and strengths; aware of the context in which they operate; and who are confident, hopeful, optimistic, resilient, and of high moral. The related construct of authentic leadership in organizations is defined by Luthans and Avolio has a process that draws from both positive psychological capacities and a highly developed organizational context, which results in both greater self-awareness and self-regulated positive behaviours on the part of leaders and associates, fostering positive self-development.
Relational aspects of leadership
Authenticity, by definition, involves being true to oneself, not others. When the focus shifts to authentic leadership, however, it shifts to the leader’s relations with others because all leadership is relational at its core.
Dynamic and processual approach
As the model of authentic leader and authentic follower development presented in the article Gardner indicates, we view authentic leadership, authentic followership, and their development as inherently dynamic processes. Similarly, Ilies et al. describe the dynamic processes whereby authentic leaders promote follower-well being, while Michie and Gooty discuss the dynamic interplay between self-transcendent values, positive other-directed emotions, and authentic leadership. Eagly describes dynamic forces, including gender and leader role requirements, that may interact to impede the efforts of female leaders and other outsiders to achieve authenticity, and in so doing, also includes the organizational and larger societal context.
The reviewed and extended emerging perspective on authentic leadership development and performance helps to explain the underlying processes and factors by which authentic leaders and B.J. Avolio, W.L. Gardner their followers can positively impact sustained performance. In doing so, they believe the perspective advanced makes several important contributions and suggests additional directions for future theory building and research. First, the review suggests the need for research on the relationship between authentic leadership and the levels of self-awareness of leaders and followers. Second, future research is needed to assess the direct effect of the leader’s positive psychological capital (e.g., hope, resiliency, and optimism) on followers and their mediating effects on sustained performance.
Third suggests that it would be beneficial to conduct research on whether positive organizational contextual variables such as an inclusive and engage culture/climate have a direct effect on followers and moderating effects on the authentic leadership-sustained performance relationship If authentic leadership over time is shown as simply highlighting the processes nested in more traditional models of leadership such as ethical or transformational, then emerging theory in this area would have served to enhance the importance of self-awareness in explaining the highest forms and impact of leadership on sustained, veritable performance.