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 19: Cameo: developing authentic leadership as a racial minority

Doyin Atewologun


In this chapter, I encourage reflection on implications for Black and Minority ethnic leaders in constructing and enacting authentic leadership. Leadership from a Black and Minority ethnic perspective coalesces with the broader discourse on leadership in some important ways, notably the idea that leadership is both relational and contextual (Day 2001). With regard to authentic leadership in particular, the emphases on transparent and trusting relationships with followers, ‘worthy’ objectives and fol- lower development (Gardner et al. 2005) hold implications for Black and Minority ethnic leadership enactment. While authentic leadership discourse recognizes the interactional dimensions involved in leadership, its privileging of a ‘truth to self’ despite external pressures is considered an optimum condition (Sheldon et al. 1997). However, for Black and Minority ethnic leadership, authentic expression exists within the societal context of power and group status differentials (Neff and Suizzo 2006). The tendency to rate in-group members’ performance (typically, the dominant, White majority) more highly than out-group members’ performance (Ashforth and Mael 1989; Tajfel and Turner 1986) suggests that minorities need to accomplish more and face greater pressure to fit in, rather than emphasize their differences, to succeed. Prototypical leaders (perceived to be typical or exemplary representatives of the collective) are liked more, have more positive relationships with sub- ordinates and face less resistance from them (Hogg 2001). Thus, for atypical leaders, being ‘true to self’ by highlighting one’s distinctiveness may seem a paradoxical route to positive work outcomes in light of social identities and group–leader dynamics research.

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