Trends in Leadership Research

Authentic Leadership

Research Paper (undergraduate), 2013

26 Pages, Grade: 1,7


Table of Contents

Executive Summary

List of Abbreviations

List of Figures

List of Tables

List of Appendices

1 Introduction
1.1 Problem Description
1.2 Objectives
1.3 Methodology
1.4 Scope and Structure of Work

2 Authentic Leadership Development
2.1 Authentic Leadership Process
2.2 Balancing 'Doing' and 'Being'
2.3 Leader's Sense of Responsibility

3 Practical Investigation

4 Conclusion
4.1 Theoretical/Practical Summary
4.2 Recommendation
4.3 Future Research Direction



Executive Summary

Authentic leaders and authentic leadership have become more and more important in times of fierce competition. Against the background of the increasing economic importance of leadership, this assignment investigates what the facets of an authentic leader are. The target group of this assignment are leader who want make itself to a more authentic leader.

Today, many companies are facing the problem of having a respected leader who can empower employees to achieve goals. With authentic leadership, a leader is able to make employees to followers, to increase the team performance and to have an open communication.

This practice-oriented investigation therefore focuses on communication. Although the effects of communication between sender and receiver are known over the years, leaders often use simple responses rather than showing commitment to employee's needs.

To sum up, authentic leadership includes both the 'doing' factor (the way how a leader is doing something) and the 'being' side (the inner attitude). At the end of the day, it is the individuals' behavior that plays a pivotal role in the work climate. The optimization of leadership style is therefore indispensable in our today's business environment.

List of Abbreviations

illustration not visible in this excerpt

List of Figures

Figure 1 Framework linking Authentic Leadership to Followers' Attitudes and Behaviors

Figure 2 Seven Layers of Leader Development

Figure 3 Leader's Sense of Responsibility

List of Tables

Table 1 Seven Layers of Leader Development

Table 2 Unsupportive and Supportive Communication

List of Appendices

Appendix 1 ITM-Checklist: 360-degree analysis

1 Introduction

Charismatic leaders were described as people who can animate followers by using their image, stories or rhetoric skills to perform on high levels. They have the vision of a better future and often prove their followers how committed they are to achieve company's goals or a vision.1 Inspiring and morally uplifting people are the signature of charismatic leaders that differs from others. Therefore, leadership development and authentic leadership became more important in recent years.2

1.1 Problem Description

There is no clear definition about authentic leaders/leadership. Avolio described authentic leadership as "those individuals who are deeply aware of how they think and behave and are perceived by others as being aware of their own and others' values/moral perspective, knowledge, and strengths…"3 By contrast, the Cognitive Fitness Consultancy - with practical background - describes authentic leadership as the linkage of own beliefs and values with the way of leading and managing within an organization4. The core question to be evaluated is therefore:

What are the facets of authentic leadership?

Furthermore, it needs to be evaluated how the leader can influence employees to make them to followers. The impact of attitudes and behavior are central issues and need to be verified to.

1.2 Objectives

In times of fierce competition and economic crisis, inside and outside a company, an authentic leadership strategy becomes more relevant and is needed for achieving required outcomes5. So it is the aim to discover authentic leaders on the one hand and to get an established approach of authentic leadership development on the other hand.

1.3 Methodology

To identify the aspects of authentic leadership and thus the characteristics of an authentic leader, first, various psychological relationships will be demonstrated. In addition, the effects of leader's attitudes and behavior to followers are explored. The leader development layers finalize this study.

1.4 Scope and Structure of Work

Chapter 2 starts with the authentic leadership process and explains the different aspects of the leader's behavior to followers. Within this process the various facets of authentic leadership, which is elementary for follower's attitudes, are outlined. This is followed by a description of the 'Seven Layers of Leadership Development' that focuses on the leader itself. An overview of different moral codes completes this chapter.

Chapter 3 contains the practical part of this assignment. Based on examples of supportive and unsupportive communication it become clear when a message is conceived as productive or not.

The conclusion in Chapter 4 sums up all main points of this assignment. A theoretical and practical summary will be given. This is followed by recommendations for authentic leadership development in order to make employees to followers. Finally, an outlook into the future will be given.

2 Authentic Leadership Development

2.1 Authentic Leadership Process

Authentic leaders can be directive, participative or authoritarian. The behavioral style of a leader is not the main attribute that differentiates between authentic and inauthentic leader. Acting with deep personal values and convictions build credibility and makes the difference. An authentic style enables the leader to encourage followers and build networks. The recognition of an authentic leadership style influence the followers to operate in a similar manner and spread to colleagues, customers and other interest stakeholders.6 George, B. describes authentic leaders as "… genuinely desire to serve others through their leadership, are more interested in empowering the people they lead to make a difference, and are as guided by the qualities of the heart, passion, and compassion as they are by qualities of the mind."7 The following figure visualizes the framework of authentic leadership.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1 Framework linking Authentic Leadership to Followers' Attitudes and Behaviors8

Social and personal identification play a pivotal role in the leadership process. It is essential that the leader affect the identity of the followers. Personal identification refers to individual values and beliefs. An authentic leader needs to stimulate the personal identification to set high moral standards, honesty and integrity. Although, this also applies to transformational leadership, authentic leadership focuses more on transparency, positivity and high ethical standards. By contrast, social identification refers to the level in which individuals identify with a group, feel pride with belonging and see membership as an essential aspect of their identity. Corporate culture can influence the emotional behavior and moral values. Successful social identification can be achieved by authentic leaders through their directness, openness and commitment to the follower's success.9

Hope reflects a person's belief that formulated goals can be successfully achieved. This is closely combined with the individual's perceived capabilities to generate workable routes to attain these aims. Trust is radiated through characteristics of a trustee. A leader's ability, benevolence and integrity are crucial. These characteristics affect the psychological state of an employee and consequently impact on work attitudes and behavior.10 Emotions represent a related response or reaction to an occurrence11. In addition, they provide individuals with invaluable information12. It suggests that accepted positive emotions have positive impact to the relationship between leader and employees and build the basis for optimism13. Employee's optimism is important for a company because of their higher work motivation, performance and job satisfaction14.

Figure 1 shows clearly how the follower's attitudes and behaviors can be influenced by the authentic leader. A positive business environment support creativity and commitment in the workplace. The mentioned psychological aspects need to be lived by the management and recognized as well as transformed by the employees and can then positively affect the company's success.15

2.2 Balancing 'Doing' and 'Being'

A frantic seeking for being an authentic leader often results in disappointment. This especially happens when a person have spent already a lot of efforts for improving itself to an authentic leader and suddenly meets a successful leader who is genuinely warm and personally concerned about others. Such people are admired and the core question is what they are doing that makes them stand out. Emulating others and simple working harder to develop own leadership skills will not bring the requested results. It is important to learn how to lead from inside. Successful leaders do so and pay attention to the inner resources. They do not put under pressure itself for developing skills, but they learn from the internal identity. Another important factor is the avoidance for 'hooking on doing'. This generally leads to the feignedly acting like a leader but in real it is playing a role. An authentic leader is concerned about 'doing' and 'being'. The positive recognition by followers suggests that leaders serve as role models.16

Most leadership books and leadership workshops do not cover the 'being' side. It is easier to focus on the 'doing' side. Thereby, the central topic is behavior which brings quick results. Nevertheless, the uncomfortable issue 'being' is often neglected but elementary to become an authentic person and capable leader. The being side is less visible and requires time to go deeper into essential interior work. Becoming an authentic leader means moving mentally to the deeper layers of leadership. Working on the top layers leads to feeling suck - working on the deeper layers (inner journey) starts with shifting to the required leadership style.17

The difference between 'doing' and 'being' can best compared with a tree. The trunk, branches and leaves are visible, similarly to the outer side of a leader. The roots below the ground reflect the inner, invisible side and acts like an anchor. A leader needs both a 'doing' side (leaves) and a 'being' side (roots) to develop (grow). Trees with weak roots do not withstand a storm.18 "Leaders who neglect their inner lives are the ones who collapse when times get tough."19 The following figure demonstrates the seven layers of leader development.


1 Cf. Avolio, B. J. (2010), pp. ix.

2 Cf. Avolio, B. J. (1999), pp. 1.

3 Cf. Avolio, B. J. et al. (2004), pp. 802.

4 Cf. Business.pdf.

5 Cf. Avolio, B. J., Gardner, W. L. (2005), p 316.

6 Cf. Avolio, B. J. et al. (2004), p. 806.

7 George, B. (2003), p. 12.

8 Cf. Avolio, B. J. et al. (2004), p. 803.

9 Cf. Avolio, B. J. et al. (2004), pp. 806.

10 Cf. Avolio, B. J. et al. (2004), pp. 808.

11 Cf. Weiss, H. W., Cropanzano, R. (1996), p. 811.

12 Cf. Lazarus, R. S. (1994), p. ix.

13 Cf. Avolio, B. J. et al. (2004), pp. 812.

14 Cf. Seligman, M. E. P. (1998), p. 13; Wanburg, C. R. (1997), pp. 731.

15 Cf. Avolio, B. J. et al. (2004), pp. 814.

16 Cf. Cashman, K. (2008), pp. 24; Galvin, J. C., O´Donnell, P. (2005), p. 2; Ilies, R. et al. (2005), p. 385.

17 Cf. Galvin, J. C., O´Donnell, P. (2005), p. 2; Sparrowe, R. T. (2005), p. 433.

18 Cf. Galvin, J. C., O´Donnell, P. (2005), pp. 2.

19 Galvin, J. C., O´Donnell, P. (2005), p. 3.

Excerpt out of 26 pages


Trends in Leadership Research
Authentic Leadership
University of applied sciences, Düsseldorf
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trends, leadership, research, authentic
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Silvio Wilde (Author), 2013, Trends in Leadership Research, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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