Authentic Leaders: The Paradox of Authenticity in Leadership | Kim Adele

People want to be led by someone “real”. Authority includes honesty and integrity. Authenticity is defined most widely by what others see in you and can therefore be controlled by you very much. What personality traits do great leaders reveal to whom? They can adapt to the demands that occur in the situations they meet and the people they lead, and yet they maintain their identities during this process. 

As described in the article Managing Authenticity: The Paradox of Great Leadership. Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones state “But while the expression of an authentic self is necessary for great leadership, the concept of authenticity is often misunderstood, not least by leaders themselves. They often assume that authenticity is an innate quality—that a person is either authentic or not. In fact, authenticity is a quality that others must attribute to you. No leader can look into a mirror and say, “I am authentic.” A person cannot be authentic on his or her own. Authenticity is largely defined by what other people see in you and, as such, can to a great extent be controlled by you. If authenticity were purely an innate quality, there would be little you could do to manage it and, therefore, little you could do to make yourself more effective as a leader.”

A genuinely good leader remains focused on where to go and never loses sight of where he/she came from. There appears to be some agreement about the qualities of genuine leadership. These include self-compassion and trusting the individual in their thoughts, feelings, motives and values. A superior leadership model is asserted as the leadership embodies greater trust and motivation. An authentic leader is supposably able to help with organisational success within the limits of social and ethical values though that seems impossible. Leaders and Coaches have also taken up the idea.

Know yourself and others

Leaders may be profoundly self-aware and authentic though not because we contemplate or analyse because we are not characters from a Woody Allen movie. Few authentic leaders will even be aware of the necessity to share their self-awareness. Great leaders can hold close those whom they know who can give honest feedback. They use social antennae to detect some aspects of their authentic selves relating to specific groups of followers. Many of those CEO’s have usually been in one place in sales mainly, and most senior executives have gone on multiple scales and ????????

to foreign companies in multinational companies. We found that people with significant mobility in their lives had a greater ability to develop these skills in their cognitive skills.


The question of Authentic Leadership came up in literature in the early 1960s. Research has dramatically increased over the last decade as unethical business practices became public. Examples of corruption are well documented and often widely reported by the media. Bill George, a Harvard University professor who has become a prominent businessman, champions authentic leadership theory and research. George believes authenticity is the primary factor of effective leadership regardless of the leadership style. Authenticity, honesty and integrity are rarer things in leadership. Recent highly publicity-worthy instances of corporate & political corruption have led to an increased need for authentic authenticity.

Managing perception

A good leader does more than merely deliver his message and values. John Latham was passionate about creating a university where student employees and teachers respect each other. Everyone is already aware of suspicious behaviour, and once that impression is there, it can be challenging for the organisation. The challenge of authentic leadership is finding common ground with the people you aspire to follow. In addition, they need to present faces to different audiences. A standard required by many people is hard to fit with authenticity. Although Shakespeare said long ago: “Everything is a stage, and a man plays multiple roles during his life. “

Use where you come from

Oxford English Dictionary defines “authenticity” in part as “of undisputed origin.” No leader would establish his authenticity if he didn’t correctly manage his relationship with the past. A genuine leader used their personal histories to develop a foundation of mutual trust with her followers. An organisation whose executive CEO speaks slanderously about his history may have been intimidating for employees — and customers born elsewhere. Society places an enormous accent on achieved status; beliefs about where you are and where you go are near the heart of living the dream.

A man for all seasons

The status of the elite remains relative to other societies. Within Asian communities, familial and geography remain relevant to people understanding of their ancestral heritage. The status of the elite remains relative to other societies, but in American society followers tend to be welcoming and open minded when a leader is authentic. The more sensitive someone becomes about changes they notice with cultural relations towards people from their ancestry’s roots, as well as those leaders that represent them – it has been found that this increases one’s level of engagement. As Albert Einstein once wrote: “I say to everybody the same way – whether the President or the garbageman. “


Often leaders most challenging area is self-awareness. The journey to understanding ourselves involves the willingness to be honest, and sensitive enough to open the dark parts of the self. It also requires adopting the humanistic belief that all humans are good and strive to be their best. To be an authentic leader, one needs to know himself to recognise – reflect – his and your weaknesses. It is challenging to overcome obstacles if we don’t acknowledge that there are them. It took years of self-reflection, introspection and hard work to become an authentic leader.

A sense of purpose.

Authenticity is the key to showing intent so employees can find you approachable and buy in. True leadership begins with a passionate leader who cares about not only their work, but also what they do for the organisation as well. Employees want to follow when they see leaders care more than simply acting like a boss or manager – authenticity shows true understanding of your role that helps generate success around you!

Authentic leaders are aware of their work and have a strong sense that they can be successful. They make employees want to care about the job by showing interest in something they do, being interested in organizational picture as well as love for helping generate success. When an employee sees passionate authentic leader it is clear how they too can succeed at what matters most to them!

A genuine heart

Authentic leaders are willing to show empathy for their employees. They know others needs, and they are eager to help them. Team members trust leadership, and this sense must help them. This genuine heart assists employees by allowing them to feel that they’re more than a part of a unit because it helps relieve stress caused from difficult work environments or toxic people at the workplace with frequent visits as needed when someone is going through tough times in order make sure these persons stay connected mentally health wise or there’s always an empathetic ear available during such trying moments which could have many beneficial effects on all parties involved–as well as decreasing feelings of isolation amongst team mates who might be struggling without support systems if one hasn’t been built up yet!

Relationship building

People react better to leaders who care about them and what is important to them. At our simplest we want to be listened to, understood and respected, leaders who do this for their people build trust, respect and loyalty. Team members will respect and like leaders whom are able to interact directly because it shows them that their point of view matters. management may politely ask if everything is ok or if they would like to come.

Authentic Leadership Theory

Leaders who are not afraid to show their authentic selves have a greater chance of succeeding in the workplace. If you want your team members to respect and trust you, it is important that they see your strengths as well as weaknesses. As someone with an open mind about others’ perceptions of them, if one sees his or her employees lacking transparency (i.e., lack knowledge on what he/she does for work), then this can be recognised so that one may rectify said weakness going forward.

Critiques of authentic leadership theory

Being a leader can be challenging, but it is essential to have confidence in oneself. It would be best if you found the courage for honesty with those around you. An important skill is learning to share your vulnerability without losing your credibility. By learning to share our vulnerability, we create a safe environment for our people to share their own. Enabling us to grow and feel valued no matter what position they hold on the company’s ladder -after all, without our people, what do we have?

Leadership theory

Leaders who are not afraid to show their authentic selves have a greater chance of succeeding in the workplace. If you want your team members to respect and trust you, they must see your strengths and weaknesses. As someone with an open mind about others’ perceptions of them, if one considers their employees lacking transparency (i.e., lack knowledge on what they do for work), this can be recognised to rectify said weakness going forward.

Why is Authenticity in Leadership challenging to achieve?

Authenticity is the key to leadership. To lead effectively, you must ensure authenticity remains at the heart of everything you do; without this trait, there will always remain doubts in the minds of those who follow where their leader may not have considered aspects important enough for them as well!

Authenticity is what allows leaders to stand out – they’re able to bring something unique about themselves into every situation, which delivers unparalleled motivation while remaining grounded in truthfulness rooted deep within one’s character.

Philosophical underpinnings

Authentic leadership is a humanistic principle that requires an awareness of oneself and relationships with other people. Humanists maintain that behavioural motivations are determined by wanting to fulfil one’s own single life goal; self-worth plays a significant role which can be seen throughout this hierarchy: Physiologic needs (e.g., food), safety concerns (e.g., shelter from harm), belonging desires or love for family & friends) and then finally pursuing meaning such as achieving goals set out before you like Maslow’s “self-actualisation.”

The leader-follower relationship

True leadership theory emphasises an established natural relationship between lead/follower. An authentic leader supports the follower in their growth, supporting them to reach their potential and realise their dream. To quote Roy T Bennett “Embrace being perfectly imperfect. Learn from your mistakes and forgive yourself”. People understand that no one is perfect it’s not perfection they are seeking in a leader it’s trust, honesty, integrity and motivation.

Leadership is a lifelong journey of development and learning to ensure we remain relevant, respected, and compelling.

Leadership has been described as being like life: it’s not something you can be taught in one go or with only one idea; rather than developing into the person they want to be by themselves–and this requires an ongoing commitment.

Why is leadership important?

Effective leadership promotes good communication with the team and also benefits a broader department. Employee morale improves when staff can feel they can voice and address their concerns. A good leader and a compelling company culture create a positive branding voice in its marketplace. 

Relational transparency

Transparency is key to building a successful company. Without it, you’re asking for problems with your staff and customers alike! A lot of companies struggle on this front because they don’t have authentic leadership within the organization; that all starts from someone at the top doing something as simple as telling their employees when they’ve messed up. Transparency means honesty – if people know what’s going on in an open way, there won’t be any need for cover-ups or secrets which can cause more harm than good over time. It may take some work upfront but it will pay off tenfold down the line by having loyal workers who are invested in seeing their workplace succeed!

No one wants to feel like they aren’t heard or valued.

How leaders can develop their authenticity.

Leaders need to take a step back and become more introspective. It’s important for leaders to get feedback from their team members, but also learn how they can better themselves as people – not just managers. To be an effective leader you must know yourself on the inside out because being authentic is everything in this day and age of social media scrutiny, which means that leadership styles should remain flexible enough so you’re never too far removed from your own ideals or beliefs. Feedback is essential when it comes to understanding oneself fully; finding out what others think about us will allow for personal growth rather than stagnating into complacency without change ever happening again!

Traits of authentic leaders?

The road toward leadership authenticity does not look straight and defined. It requires different skills, characteristics and actions. However, in focusing on these common characteristics, you can move towards the leadership style you desire.

A genuine leader knows how to use power to good the group. When a leader does what they say, they gain the respect and admiration of their teams.

The great thing about a leader is that they are always able to provide for their team. A true leader will make sure the goals of the company and individuals within it match up, but more importantly, these leaders keep an eye out on all fronts so that nothing falls through the cracks. Leaders who can achieve this level of discipline end up gaining respect from those around them – not only because they know where things stand at any given time with regards to individual responsibility in relation to work ethic, but also because people see themselves reflected back when looking upon such strong leadership skills.

Here is my previous post on my personal views on what makes an authentic leader so inspiring and my infographic below.

What Makes an Authentic Leader so Inspiring?

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What Makes an Authentic Leader so Inspiring? Part 2

Share this Image On Your Site – 2 of 2

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