Authentic Leadership

Aspiring leaders very often search for instructions or advice on how to master leadership. The article Discovering Your Authentic Leadership in Harvard Business Review claims that the place to discover leadership lies in our own biography. The authors have conducted a massive study to identify ways of developing leadership skills, and they have come up with the concept of authentic leadership.

Authentic leaders behave naturally, in ways that fit their personality. They nurture long-lasting relationships; they have mastered self-discipline and self-awareness. Striving to achieve desired goals, they stick to their values and principles.

According to the study, becoming an authentic leader requires that we first interpret our life story. It is important to consider the people and experiences that shaped our character in the early life stages. By practicing self-awareness, we should understand the real values and principles that guide our decisions, and the factors – both internal and external – that motivate us. An authentic leader can count on a diverse support group, which may consist of a partner, family, and friends. Authentic leaders prove their integrity when facing difficult choices, even if the correct decision may negatively affect their career.

I would risk the statement that in online communities, it is even more important for a leader to be authentic. Such authenticity is a source of referent power, the biggest influencing force that allows a leader to drive the community effort in desired direction. In each place where you show up online, whether it’s in a blog, a social network, or an online forum, you can build trust via integrity or lose trust via acting against community values. And as always, it’s much easier to lose trust than it is to build it.

What do you do to stay authentic on the web? I’d love to see your point of view in the comments!

Source: William W. George, Peter Sims, Andrew N. McLean, David Mayer, and Diana Mayer: Discovering Your Authentic Leadership; Harvard Business Review; February 2007.

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1 Response to “Authentic Leadership”


  1. 1 Marie Brown January 16, 2013 at 5:56 am

    “Leadership is about capacity – the capacity of leaders to listen and observe, the use their expertise as a starting point to encourage dialogue between all levels of decision-making, to establish processes and transparency in decision-making, to articulate their own values and visions clearly but not impose them. Leadership is about setting and not just reacting to agendas, identifying problems, and initiating change that makes for substantial improvement rather than managing change.”

    Dr. Ann Marie E. McSwain, Associate Professor, Lincoln University.


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