Table of Contents

Authentic Leadership

Authentic Leadership

Clashes, Convergences and Coalescences

New Horizons in Leadership Studies series

Edited by Donna Ladkin and Chellie Spiller

The majority of authentic leadership literature focuses on the individual leader. However, the authors in this volume expertly focus on the premise that leadership is a relational phenomenon and not something that can be distilled down to the actions of one leader, be they authentic or not.

Chapter 4: Viewpoint: the authentic leader reconsidered: integrating the marvellous, mundane and mendacious

Suze Wilson

Subjects: politics and public policy, leadership


Given the almost God-like qualities ascribed to leaders in recent decades, practitioners looking for advice on leadership from the academic literature must surely be forgiven for becoming increasingly confused. From the early 1980s onwards the dominance of the transformational concept of leadership was such as to provide clear and consistent messages: be inspirational and charismatic; provide intellectual stimulation; offer individualized consideration and contingent reward; and engage in active management by exception (Bass 1985; Bass and Riggio 2006). The very dominance of transformational leadership in the scholarly literature (Hunt 1999; Jackson and Parry 2011) could readily be taken as implying a broad consensus had emerged that this was an effective model. Yet, with the recent growing interest in authentic leadership (see Figure 4.1), practitioners now have on offer a very different approach to leading. With authentic leadership the emphasis shifts markedly: knowing oneself, using one’s own moral compass, considering information in a balanced fashion and taking a transparent approach to dealing with others constitute the key recommendations now being made to practitioners by leading proponents of this approach (Walumbwa et al. 2008). Authentic leadership, at face value, seems to imply leaders who are more ‘like one of us’ ordinary mortals. To explain this growing interest in authentic leadership we might expect to be able to look to the evidence demonstrating its effectiveness. However, as Jackson and Parry (2011) have noted, there has been remarkably little empirical research on authentic leadership.

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