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6.8.2 Authentic Leadership

Authentic leadership brings together the the concept of authenticity with positive psychology. Luthans and Avolio (2003) defined authentic leadership as "a process that draws from both positive psychological capacities and a highly developed organizational context, which results in both greater self-awareness and self-regulated positive behaviors on the part of leaders and associates, fostering positive self-development" (p. 243). This definition, and the theory of authentic leadership were developed to define four components (Walumbwa et al., 2008).

The Four Components of Authentic Leadership:

Self-awareness: an understanding of one's strengths and weaknesses and the multi-faceted nature of the self; this includes developing an insight into the self, through exposure to others and being aware of one's impact on others;

Internalised moral perspective: self-regulation that is based on internalised moral values (as opposed to those imposed by the group, organisation or society); this is expressed in ethical decision making and ethical behaviour;

Balanced processing: objective evaluation of information before making a decision, including encouraging others to question or challenge one's values;

Relational transparency: being true to one's values and expressing this to others; this involves the open sharing of information about one's thoughts and feelings.

A quick task: What similarities are there between transformational leadership, ethical leadership and authentic leadership - and what are the differences? Do you think that there are sufficient differences for these three theories to be describing a distinct form of leadership?

Given that this theory is relatively new, there is limited empirical support. Nevertheless, Walumbwa et al. (2008) showed that authentic leadership is significantly predictive of employee outcomes, including satisfaction, commitment, OCBs and performance. However, there is currently little evidence published to demonstrate the relationship between authentic leadership and objective measures of job performance or organisational functioning.