Authentic Leadership

Calvin Williams, Florida State University

“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”  Oscar Wilde 

Authentic leadership with its ability to create positive work outcomes and improve performance in the workplace has been shown in research to be a leadership style that can enhance job satisfaction for direct reports.  The authentic leadership theory has AAEAAQAAAAAAAAiAAAAAJGE4YWE3NTg0LWFkZjAtNGE3OC1iYWNkLTY1YTJhOWUwNjQyOAevolved over the past decade and has application within multiple work environments.  The authentic leadership theory is focused on leaders who display self-awareness, internalized moral perspective, balanced processing and relational transparency.  The ability for a leader to build and promote a positive work environment may enhance the performance of the work group. The self-awareness, internalized moral perspective, balanced processing and relational transparency dimensions overlap because of the core concept of authenticity.  The relational aspect of authentic leadership focuses on the relationships the leader has with direct reports, peers and supervisors.


The leader has a full understanding of their strengths, values and weaknesses and how others view their leadership ability.  The leader must be able to grasp the concept of their self-view and how it effects the work environment

Relational transparency

Relational transparency involves the leader presenting their authentic self, which helps build and develop trust by sharing true thoughts and feelings and displaying appropriate emotions. This transparency and openness creates a nurturing work environment and shows direct reports they are valued and appreciated.

Internalized Moral Perspective

This authentic leadership characteristic is evident when leaders integrate their personal morals with self-perspective and keep them separate from the organizational and societal influences.  They can separate and maintain their internalized moral perspective from outside influences.

Balanced Processing

This characteristic highlights the leader’s ability and willingness to gather viewpoints from others prior to making a decision.  The authentic leader seeks views and opinions even if they contradict their original viewpoint on the issue.  This allows the authentic leader to make decisions best for the work environment and not just for their own agenda.  Balanced processing eliminates a defensive or negative position when receiving information from others within the organization.  This helps the authentic leader build trust as direct reports know their opinions and thoughts are expected and valued.  The level of trust built with direct reports is determined by how consistent the leader is when receiving and processing information received from others.


The following conclusions were drawn from research 1) authentic leadership is significantly correlated with job satisfaction, 2) the four authentic leadership characteristics are significantly correlated with job satisfaction and 3) job satisfaction is best explained by the authentic leadership characteristic balanced processing.

How can you integrate authentic leadership within the work environment?

One thought on “Authentic Leadership

  1. Great post Calvin! I recently read it is better to work for a great leader at a poor organization than to work for a poor leader at a great organization. For those that don’t have authentic leaders, take heart; you can be that authentic leader for others. Soon the tides will change.


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