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How Can Authentic Leadership Be Effective?

Leader. (n.d.). [Photograph]. Fintech İstanbul.

Authentic leadership style is one of the many leadership styles that may be seen in every situation. We would like to explore the term and what it can mean to businesses, whether it can be an effective tool or not in this article. In addition, the four fundamental principles of authentic leadership and managers’ general attitudes that may be regarded as authentic leadership style will be discussed. The possible advantages and disadvantages will also be displayed.

Authentic leadership style is a leadership style in which managers or leaders inspire others by acting authentically and taking actions that align with their own sense of values, beliefs, principles, and morals. according to Kruse; the four principles that are required from an authentic leader is self awareness and being genuine, putting emphasis on relational transparency, being able to process different point of views in a balanced way, and having an internalized moral perspective. Robinson & O'dea (2014) explained that authentic leaders within organizations lead people by inspiring them to take actions that are aligned with their true self. For this reason, they avoid leading employees directly but they manage the decision-making process with democracy. They listen to their employees as their authentic leadership style, which is regarded as humanitarian. The managers usually value each and every of their employees’ own values and beliefs as human beings. This is the reason why they choose to include their employees in the decision-making process by listening to their opinions on the issues.

What Exactly Is Authentic Leadership?

According to Robinson & O'dea (2014), authentic leadership has been explored sporadically as part of modern management science, but found its highest levels of acceptance since Bill George’s 2003 book, Authentic Leadership. As most leaders and also employees tend to act in a different way at work to inspire action, and they put on a façade to impress people, authentic leaders differ from other types of leaderships in this aspect. Authentic leadership is a leadership style in which the leaders put emphasis on being their true authentic selves to inspire others. Being true to themselves require them to rely on their own beliefs, values, principles, morals, and even culture. In this sense, an authentic leader is most likely to know their selves eloquently to operate from their true authentic selves. Knowing one's self requires commitment, time, and patience for learning and understanding. This process is vital for people who are willing to embody this style of leadership. They must understand themselvestheir core values and beliefs as a person which they can apply in the workplace.

Their legitimacy is based on their ability to establish honest relationships with their peers. Through these relationships, authenticity and honesty are the base of the communication process between the leaders and their followers. In this way, the leader creates an opportunity for followers to be themselves. This also gives the opportunity for leaders to be able to hear and address their followers’ own opinions, even their values and beliefs. This situation allows to create a democratic way of leading. This leadership style is also based on an ethical foundation as the leaders are operating within their core beliefs and values, and unhesitatingly, revealing themselves as a person to their followers.

Four Principles of Authentic Leadership

Kruse (2014) argued that there are four principles to authentic leadership. The first principle that authentic leadership is based on is self–awareness and being genuine. Authentic leaders are self-aware as they put immense emphasis on knowing themselves and learning their true selves. This allows them to be able to live in their true authenticity, unhesitatingly. They reveal their true selves to the world, and doing so, they are aiming to awake inspiration to take necessary actions towards the future. In addition, authentic leaders are self-actualized in the sense of them being very aware of their own emotions, their strengths, weaknesses, and limitations.

According to Kruse (2014), the second principle of authentic leadership is the emphasis on transparency in relationships. Authentic leaders establish honest relationships with their followers. The way they establish honest and genuine relationships with their followers is through sharing their honest opinions and feelings about things. However, an effective authentic leader does not overshare or display their ineffective and inappropriate emotions. This issue displays the difference of low-monitoring leaders and high-monitoring leaders. Low-monitoring leaders usually display an overdose of authenticity where they also show their negative emotions, and this may have a negative effect on the employees or followers. On the contrary, high-monitoring leaders understand the possible effects of their inconsiderate actions on people. High-monitoring leaders take appropriate precautions as they monitor their negative emotions and exhibit them in an appropriate way, or they make the decision of not showing their negative emotions at all, if this will have no benefits for the organization.

The third principle of authentic leadership Kruse (2014) has pointed out is the ability to process inputs from their employees in a balanced way. To explain, authentic leaders value the inputs from their employees in the decision-making processes. Authentic leaders tend to solicitate opposing viewpoints to create a democratic atmosphere within the organization. Opposing viewpoints are considered objectively and fairly by the leader. This is why authentic leadership style is considered to be humanitarian. They value others’ opinions, values, and beliefs and their unique perspective on certain issues. Generally, authentic leaders solicitate their followers to also 'be themselves.' They inspire their followers by 'being' and 'acting' as themselves and by encouraging them to voice their own opinions. With this process of exchanging ideas between the employees and the manager, the flow of ideas arise and the manager then gets involved in the decision-making process by balancing the different and possibly opposing ideas. The employees feel more engaged within the organization and it adds up to their motivation as well.

The last principle of authentic leadership according to Kruse (2014) is that authentic leaders have an internalized moral perspective. The leader usually imposes their own ethical opinions into the organization in order to establish an ethical foundation. This ethical foundation is a positive one and the followers are usually complying to it. This ethical foundation also have an effect on primarily the relationships between the employees and the leaders or managers. After that, the people who are involved with the company is going to be affected. Customers, media, and the general public will be affected by this ethical foundation. Since the company is interacting with their external environment such as customers, competitors, and the general public and they stay true to the company’s core ethics, this will have effects on them as well. However, there are opposing views on this principle, too. One of these opposing views is that a leader may be authentic but has a corrupt value system. The rationale of being an authentic leader is to behave as one's self; therefore, one leader may be corrupt and also act as their true selves which may not bring the positive side of themselves.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Authentic Leadership

When it comes to the advantages of authentic leadership, Luenendock (2020) has made assessments that there are many positive effects because this type of leadership is generally very positive. One of them is that the general engagement between employees and the leader is enhanced. The relationships between the leader and the employees get better, since the leader put emphasis on initiating and establishing their relationships with honesty. The other advantage is that this leadership style provides consistency for the organization. Since the leader determines core values and beliefs within an organization, the leader shows the way for the employees to be themselves and respect the company’s values and beliefs and run the business accordingly. This provides the company with a certain consistency within an organization as employees and leaders act and run the business according to the same core ethical standards and values. In addition, their consistency is going to be perceived positively in the public eye. There are controversies on the advantage of ethical standards as it has been acknowledged. However, most of the authentic leaders guarantee that the ethical and moral standards are high within an organization. This advantage is parallel with the advantage of consistency as they assist each other in the business organization. The other advantage would be that the collaboration within an organization will be heightened. The reason for that is authentic leaders encourage the engagement of the employees within the organization to enhance the sharing of the different ideas, opinions, and perceptions that each employee has.

In addition, Luenendonk (2020) pointed out some of the possible disadvantages of authentic leadership style. One of the possible disadvantages of the authentic leadership style is when the leaders are authentic and transparent in a negative way. This comes down to the difference between the low-monitoring and high-monitoring leaders. Low-monitoring leaders display their negative emotions that may lead to unproductivity within an organization, whereas a high-monitoring leader is going to be considerate of their behaviors' possible effects on the employees. When a leader reflects their inner state on the employees without monitoring, the effects of their authenticity is going to be negative in the workplace. Other possible disadvantage with this type of leadership is that the ability to make quick decisions is going to be hindered. Since managers put great emphasis on the democracy in the workplace, decisions are made by including the employees’ opinions, ideas, and perspectives into the decision-making process. This will eventually lead to the organizations’ ability to make decisions quickly. The other disadvantage would be that leaders’ effort to put moral standards within an organization which may create controversy. Employees and other managers may have different ethical values and beliefs compared to the leader and this may lead to contradicting objectives within an organization.


  • Kruse, K. (2014, April 25). What Is Authentic Leadership? Forbes.

  • Luenendonk, M. (2020, July 25). Authentic Leadership Guide: Definitions, Qualities, Pros & Cons, Examples. Cleverism.

  • Robinson, S. & O’dea, V. (2014). Authentic Leadership – To thine own self be true. Insight Magazine.

Image Resource

  • Fintech Istanbul. (n.d.). Leader [Photograph].


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