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 16: Viewpoint: responsible investment and authentic leadership

Rodger Spiller

Subjects: politics and public policy, leadership


This chapter introduces the perspective of responsible investors to test the idea of authentic leadership and provide a definition of what authentic leadership might look like from a responsible investment point of view. This is explained from both a practitioner’s view, drawing upon my 30-year career in investment, sustainability and leadership development, and an academic view, drawing upon my Ph.D. and other research into business leadership from a responsible investment and responsible business perspective. Authentic leadership scholars attribute a lack of authentic leadership as a cause for the many financial and environmental issues or challenges facing the world (Caza and Jackson 2011). Authentic leadership is proposed as a key solution (Walumbwa et al. 2008). A missing piece in the authentic leadership literature is consideration of the fundamentally important role of shareholders. The proverbial elephant in the room is that most shareholders don’t do anything about using their money to make the differences that these scholars are calling for. If the majority of current investors’ behavior doesn’t change to become more responsible then the criticism from scholars who argue that current authentic leader- ship definitions are naïve, and unlikely to be widely adopted in practice, may prove to be correct. I suggest that, as the owners of businesses, shareholders can help bring about the changes the authentic leadership literature seeks. Authentic leadership scholars have the opportunity to build a bridge between academia and the world investors inhabit by making the case for why authenticity matters and how authentic leadership can be identified and developed. A natural way for this to occur is for authentic leadership scholars to understand and work with responsible investors.

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