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Authentic leaders

The idea of authentic leadership has been around for a long time but was popularised by Bill George in his book titled Authentic Leadership (George 2003).

Luthans and Avolio see authentic leadership as:

… a process that draws from both positive psychological capacities and a highly developed organisational context, which results in both greater self-awareness and self-regulated positive behaviors on the part of leaders and associates, fostering positive self-development.

Luthans and Avolio (2003: 243)

Avolio et al. added that authentic leaders are those who:

… act in accordance with deep personal values and convictions, to build credibility and win the respect and trust of followers.

Avolio et al. (2004: 806)

Gardner et al. (2005) claimed that, through authentic leadership, followers’ commitment and job satisfaction could be increased, leading to higher job performance.

Luthans and Avolio (2003) posits that authentic leaders recognise and value individual differences, and have the ability and motivation to identify people’s talents and help them build those talents into strengths. This, in turn, ties in with the notion of building and expanding positive organisational behaviour.

Your task

Read this article on authentic leadership to get a better idea of what it is, what the key behaviours are and how to become an authentic leader.


Avolio, B. J., Gardner, W. L., Walumbwa, F. O., Luthans, F., and May, D. R. (2004) ‘Unlocking the Mask: A look at the Process by Which Authentic Leaders Impact Follower Attitudes and Behaviors’. Leadership Quarterly 15: 801-823

Gardner, W. L., Avolio, B. J., Luthans, F., May, D. R., and Walumba, F. O. (2005) ‘Can You See The Real Me? A Self-Based Model of Authentic Leader and Follower Development’. The Leadership Quarterly, 16 (3), 343-372

George, B. (2003) Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value. San Francisco: Jossey Bass

Luthans, F., and Avolio, B. J. (2003) ‘Authentic Leadership: A Positive Developmental Approach’. in K. S. Cameron, J. E. Dutton, and R. E. Quinn (Eds.) Positive Organizational Scholarship 241-261. San Francisco7 Barrett-Koehler

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This article is from the free online course:

Leadership Theory: The Basics

Coventry University