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 25: Cameo: developing authentic, innovative leaders

Lotte Darsø


In order to create a better future the world needs authentic, innovative leaders. But how can educational programmes support such leaders in realizing a better future? I’d like to share some tested ideas as inspiration for fellow educators, consultants and practitioners. The approach I use synthesizes research on the early innovation process and research on how artful methods can enrich business and organizational life, and the findings have been contested and developed through years of experience and practice in our executive master education programme on Leadership and Innovation in Complex Systems (see A striking insight from the executive programme is that being authentic and innovative cannot be taught. Instead participating leaders are best invited to engage in a process of direct experience, reflection and discovery in a well-prepared and inspirational context. Before continuing with the creation of context, I shall examine the inbuilt contradiction between the concepts of authenticity and innovation. Authenticity can be perceived as inner knowing of the self that manifests itself in its embodiment. As a grounded presence it is best identified by going back to one’s roots. Innovation concerns creating new value together with others. It is an inquiry and search for something in the outer world, looking for possibilities of the future. Authenticity, then, can be seen as inner and backwards, while innovation is outer and forwards. How can these energies work together to create synergy? Interestingly, both can be found in innovation competency, which is defined as the ability to create innovation by navigating together with others in complexity.

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