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 23: Cameo: spinning authentic leadership living stories of the self

David M. Boje, Catherine A. Helmuth and Rohny Saylors


We examine authentic leadership through a living story web which recognizes a leader’s struggle to reach an authentic whole-Self in relation to their inauthentic selves. This is achieved through an ontological lens (Boje et al. 2012) which is derived from Heidegger’s (1962) notion of authenticity and inauthenticity and Bakhtin’s (1993) concept of once- occurrent events. While Heidegger’s (1962) and Bakhtin’s (1973, 1993 [1929]) ontologies are central to the philosophical literature, the majority of authentic leadership scholars disregard Bakhtin’s (1993) contributions and merely cite Heidegger’s (1962) work rather than leveraging both philosophers’ ideas to develop a more theoretically grounded approach to authentic leadership. We address this scholarly gap by developing Bakhtin’s and Heidegger’s ontologies when considering the processes that leaders utilize to spin authentic living stories of their polyphonic selves. First we explore the authentic leadership literature through an ontological lens, which allows us to consider the meaning of ‘Being-in- the-world’ (Heidegger 1962, no. 201, p. 245). Following the tradition of Heideggerian translations we use capital letters to express the word’s ontological meaning. Then we offer a narrative therapy approach and conclude with specific recommendations for a practical utilization of these ideas. The authentic resides in a living story web because of the inherent differences between a narrative and a living story (Boje 2001, 2008, 2011, 2012; TwoTrees 2000; Tyler 2010, 2011). In a retrospective- narrative approach a leader’s identity is based on character traits and focuses on sequential plot structures.

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