Authentic Leadership
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Authentic Leadership

Clashes, Convergences and Coalescences

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.
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Chapter 14: Essay: from authenticity to communitas: an ecology of leadership

Ralph Bathurst and Trudie Cain


The notion of authenticity has developed in the context of a quest for a more humanized and ethical workplace. This search has been made more urgent by the opprobrium heaped on business and political leaders during a time when unethical business practices have contributed to global economic collapse. The theory of authentic leadership has offered a way through the subsequent loss of confidence in those charged with leading business and political organizations. The authentic leader accommodates the traditional instrumental approaches to organizational activity by being a more morally sensitized person who is able to resist the primacy of economic rationality. Hence authenticity allows for the goal-oriented, success-driven leader to express his or her nuanced emotions and ethical conundrums while encouraging followers to do the same. To be an effective leader, then, is to be authentic. This theory necessitates that the authentic leader is ‘true to himself’(Khan 2010, p. 168) and, in so doing, enables a positive and creative work climate that attends to the needs of all members of the organization (Alok and Israel 2012; Rego et al. 2012; Woolley et al. 2011). The link, then, between the authentic leader and enfranchised followers is on the overarching desire for all organizational members to be ethical and enact ‘pro-social’ behaviours (Hannah et al. 2011).However, this focus on the authentic self is not universally applauded. Indeed, Gardiner (2011) argues that ‘the new management theory of authentic leadership is deeply problematic because it fails to take into account how social and historical circumstances affect a person’s ability to be a leader’ (p. 99).

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