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Authentic leaders

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Man sitting at a boardroom table.
© University of Southern Queensland

Your choice of leadership style and the authenticity of its implementation determines whether your employees trust your business decisions or merely go along with them.

As we discovered earlier, a common distinction in leadership theory is between transactional and transformational. Authentic leadership is a subcategory of transformational leadership and is characterised by a leader who truly believes in what they embrace. By contrast, an inauthentic leader does not truly believe in their goals.

Northouse (2019) suggests authentic leaders focus on three characteristics:

  • Intrapersonal – what goes on inside a leader’s mind.
  • Interpersonal – the relational aspect between the leader and the follower.
  • Developmental – the authentic and believable aspect of these leaders can be developed over a lifetime and may even be triggered by life-changing events.

George (2003) in writing of his experiences in large corporates suggested that authentic leaders demonstrate five dimensions of leadership style including purpose, values, relationships, self-discipline, and heart (2019, p. 197).

The notion of the ‘heart’ is not new in research; however, it refers to showing compassion for others’ situations, listening to life stories, putting oneself in another person’s shoes and showing greater sensitivity. It is connecting to others in ways that create a deeper sense of meaning and narratives around situations, issues, challenges, personal stories.

The following podcast provides some more perspective on how authentic leadership is enacted.

Listen to Bill George on Authentic Leadership.

#George, B. (2003). Authentic leadership: Rediscovering the secrets of creating lasting value. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
#PTV Healthcare Capital. Bill George on Authentic leadership . Retrieved from
Northouse, P. G. (2019). Leadership: Theory & practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
© University of Southern Queensland
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