Authentic Leadership in a Global Environment

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Joe Real was charismatic and a visionary leader. He was a middle level manager headed to senior leadership. Joe was a great networker and problem solver. Joe often traded help for information about the organization. But-those who knew Joe the best knew he could not be trusted. He would tell one manager one thing and another manager a different story. In doing such things, Joe hoped to have managers going after one another enough so that he could leverage his power of information to gain more influence in the organization. Yet, his back stabbing ways came to the forefront as one of the senior managers caught Joe in a lie to another co-worker.

Today’s employees expect managers to model corporate values. Sadly, some managers do not take this invisible code seriously. Hypocrisy is the rule of the day. When I was sitting in my Sunday lecture, the instructor brought home what it meant to be hypocritical when discussing Jesus’ interaction with the leaders of his time, The Pharisees. Jesus openly criticized their actions to his followers in Matthew 23:2: “Therefore, whatever they [Pharisees] tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do their works. For they speak, but do nothing.4 They fasten heavy loads that are hard to carry and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves will not move them with their finger.” Sadly, many workers face some less than genuine managers that fail to inspire them for greater performance. This article examines the concept of authentic leadership in today’s society.

Competition is fierce across the globe. Managers are often forced to act genuine with their employees because financial circumstances force them to behave in ways that are in the best interest of shareholders and investors, not their employees. Yet, organizations need talented and inspired employees who go beyond the basic requirements to excellence. Yet, employees are reluctant to give this type of performance to self-serving leaders who do not care about them.

Forbes contributing writer Victor Lipman, in his article “The Foundational Importance of Trust in Management,” notes the alarming levels of distrust among workers. According to a Gallup survey, 70% of workers are disengaged in the organization. Lipman found several contributing factors to this problem, which were: disingenuous communication, lack of modeling behavior, and financial pressure. Lipman explains, “As a manager myself, I recognized it was critical for my employees to trust me if I expected them to be fully productive on my watch.” With trust on the downturn with numerous layoffs and higher unemployment, managers must be sincere and genuine with their workforce if they want a different type of performance.

Organizations must foster authentic leadership in today’s environment. Leadership denotes the ability to influence others. When the adjective of authentic is modified on the word, something special emerges. The adjective authentic conveys “something that is real or genuine and not counterfeit.” In the case of the Pharisees, they were influencers of their followers. However, the reality of the matter was that their type of leadership was not genuine or sincere. Authentic leadership defines the leader’s ability to have honest relationships with followers through transparent relationships. In this mode, the leader may leave himself/herself vulnerable to others.

Bill George, author of Authentic Leadership, describes authentic leadership as ‘a leadership style that is consistent with a leader’s personality and core values, and that is honest, ethical and practical.’ Dr. Richard Daft, author of Management, further outlines the following key characteristics of authentic leadership: (a) Authentic leaders pursue their purpose with passion; (b) Authentic leaders practice solid values; (c) Authentic leaders lead with their hearts as well as their heads; (d) Authentic leaders establish connected relationships; and Authentic leaders demonstrate self-discipline. With these traits, authentic leadership would be synonymous with an unselfish leadership approach.

In closing, today’s workers want managers who can inspire them for higher performance. However, workers are not looking for managers who are not genuine in their relationships with them. This article examined the concept of authentic leadership in today’s society. The analysis demonstrated that workers want leaders who are authentic and sincere with them. With the many disruptive forces surrounding the workplace, like layoffs, employees want to believe their management is looking out for the worker’s best interest. If authentic leadership is applied, organizations will be better able to foster this value. By utilizing authentic leadership in their organizations, managers will be better able to build these types of positive relationships with workers. Start today!

© 2016 by Daryl D. Green


Authentic Leadership by Bill George

Management by Richard Daft

“The Foundational importance of Trust in Management” by Victor Lipman

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