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 21: Cameo: authentic Canadian Aboriginal leadership: living by the circle

Mark Julien, Barry Wright and Deborah McPhee


The aim of this chapter is to share how Canadian Aboriginals embrace authentic leadership informed by their cultural perspective. Although in the mainstream literature ‘authentic leadership’ is often characterized as being ‘true to oneself’, our example shows how being authentic can be a product of one’s cultural identity, rather than the expression of this unitary sense of self. As background, we are three non-Aboriginal authors who have had the privilege of discussing leadership with 17 Canadian Aboriginal leaders who work in the business, professional sports and not-for-profit sectors. These individuals have all held very senior positions in their organizations. This topic was important to both us and our respondents because Aboriginals are a particularly disadvantaged group in Canada, rarely studied in employment situations, yet they are one of the fastest-growing demographic segments in Canada. By the end of 2017, there will be close to one million Aboriginal people of working age (15 and older), which will account for about 3.4 per cent of the Canadian working-age population overall (Luffman and Sussman 2007).

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