An insight into Authentic Leadership

imagesTo be considered a successful manager or leader I believe that authentic leadership can be of great value. Following the very core values of the model of authenticity such as trust, self-awareness, ethics, morals and transparency gains trust and respect to followers.

However, I believe that it requires all parts of the organisation to be of the same mind-set. Might it be values, morals, visions or in some effect generations? Simply changing leadership routines over a short course of time might have devastating effects. Lloyd and Walker talked about generational shifts and how the “flag is passed on”. Core values of the organisations might not be set in stone.

However, gradually shifting over to a more trustworthy, honest and authentic person is recommended, this can be done through seminars, as well as surveys with the entire staff force.

I have confidence in that authentic leadership is based on trust. People define each other on how well they can trust each other in the common workplace (Colquitt et al. 2007). Trust exercises are consequently to be prioritised first and foremost.

Kruse in Forbes wrote similar, how can managers and leaders be surprised when employees do not trust them, when they change from one person to another, being on and off work? (Kruse, 2013). The quote illustrates the importance of authenticity as well as transparency. Managers and leaders need to show that they don’t switch faces or appearance on and off work, as this “shifts” the very image the leader is trying to project. Does this mean that managers and leaders can’t distance themselves enough in order to have a personal life? Coming to terms that “sharing” one’s personal life or values of the leader will benefit the organisation might help to introduce less secret managers and leaders to a more open and shared environment.

This notion in the field of managers and leaders is something new and will need time to take full effect. As my researched showed, of just 4 employees, the picture or idea of yourself might not always be the one that is projected in the eyes of the viewer. Then imagine the same survey in a large corporation with a few hundred employees. Leroy, Palnski and Somins quotes Shakespeare for the same concept “being true to one self is an important precondition to being true to others[..]” (Leroy et al, 2011). I believe my exercise with a close friend business owner of mine showed that authenticity can fade over time and it is then up to the leader to actually “refresh” these values, sometimes with the help of external stakeholders. This is something I need to take with me further into my career and remember!

It also illustrates that people need to take both themselves and others into extra consideration when applying authenticity as their choice of leadership. I argue that applying this will be harder than expected, as the bias of the strong and almost almighty leader will forever stain the culture of managers and leaders. However, to grow, one must deal with this issue, through education, understanding of social phycology as well as more hands on surveys and seminars. I argue that a constant development in the field of management education will be a driving force of authentic leadership. HR and CSR will consequently play a very important role for the management field in the upcoming decade as human resources and ethics play a larger role every corporation.

Furthermore, Lloyd-Walker and Walker point towards a stressful and complex working environment. This, in our day and age, is not uncommon, especially in a leadership position. Authenticity might help as a booster of productivity from your team but also in dealing with self-help. However I believe it is important to define various areas that are “time stealers”. Even from a week of meditation exercises I understood that my own attention span and listening were far worse than expected. The psychology test showed that I am in an area of average “According to your score, you sometimes have difficulty maintaining your focus on a task and following it through until completion.” It is something I have to take into account dealing further down business strategies as well as decisions. Once again, self-realisation and awareness is keys to authentic leadership.

With so much information being sent at all times in organisations that needs to be dealt with, I’d like to raise the idea that it perhaps is one of the greatest backlashes in the information age, that we are not yet fully aware of. I propose the idea that to further develop authentic leadership one must also come to peace with the concept of “boring”. To be bored and accepting it is a trait not yet fully examined in the academic world. Much focus, if not all, is aimed towards focus and results. However, to really find ones focus, boredom might be a hidden key to realise ones full potential. Schubert argues about this, in 1977, in the Journal of Creative Behaviour, pointing to findings like increased boredom might lead to increased creativity. However the results are very vague and done in a time where the information age was yet to unfold.

Meditation might help if conducted over a longer period of time and making it into a daily routine. Although, I don’t believe the aim for meditation is to be bored, rather it is a tool for self-relation and awareness.

It is therefore hard to draw conclusions about my own statement, but I believe it is an area that could help people to further understand themselves as well as improve their own image of themselves, attention span, concertation and listening ability.

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