By Vivienne Liu
Research & Development Specialist

Bryan Chuang
OD Catalyst

Given the many leadership frauds and corporate scandals that have plagued the world in the 21st century — Enron (2003), Lehman Brothers (2008), Volkswagen (2015), Federation Internationalde de Football Association (FIFA) (2015) and Uber (2017), just to name a few — it is not surprising that many people lack confidence in today’s organisational leaders. In fact, Simons (2002), as well as Walumbwa, Avolio, Gardner, Wernsing and Peterson (2008) found that stakeholders are increasingly less tolerant of leadership behaviours that signal inauthenticity, a lack of integrity, and inconsistency in words and actions. 

In today’s business landscape where the transformational and servant leadership styles of the early 2000s are insufficient to engage skeptical stakeholders, leaders are in urgent need of a new approach to leadership that is rooted in and established based on authenticity.

Characterised by self-awareness, genuine relationships, long-term focus and a heart for the people, authentic leadership is found to enhance Organisation Based Self Esteem (OBSE), whereby organisational members view themselves as essential, effective and worthy to their organisation (Cottrill, Lopez & Hoffman, 2014). Such views in turn lead to an increase in Organisational Citizenship Behaviours (OCB) — sportsmanship, helpfulness, attention to details and high involvement with the organisation (Organ, 1988). 

Similarly, other research has found that authentic leadership results in better work outcomes (Peterson, Walumbwa, Avolio & Hannah, 2012), higher job satisfaction (Bamford, Wong, & Laschinger, 2012), higher commitment from constituents (Leroy, Palanski, & Simons, 2012), and better quality of life for constituents as a whole (Bhindi and Duignan, 1997) — all of which undoubtedly have a positive impact on the organisation’s bottomline. 

How is your organisation meeting the need for authentic leadership today? Let’s connect at!

Bhindi, N. and Duignan, P. (1997). Leadership for a new century: Authenticity, intentionality, spirituality and sensibility. Educational Management and Administration, 25(2), 117-132. doi: 10.1177/0263211X97252002

Bamford, M., Wong, C. A., and Laschinger, H. (2012). The influence of authentic leadership and areas of worklife on work engagement of registered nurses. Journal of Nursing Management, 21, 529-540. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2834.2012.01399.x

Cottrill, K., Lopez, P. and Hoffman, C. (2014). How authentic leadership and inclusion benefit organizations. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, 33(3), 275-292. doi: 10.1108/EDI-05-2012-0041

Leroy, H., Palanski, Y., and Simons, T. (2012). Authentic leadership and behavioral integrity as drivers of follower commitment and performance. Journal of Business Ethics, 107, 255-264. doi: 10.1007/s10551-011-1036-1

Organ, D. W. (1988). Organizational citizenship behavior: The good soldier syndrome. USA: D.C. Heath and Company.

Peterson, S. J., Walumbwa, F. O., Avolio, B. J., and Hannah, S. T. (2012). The relationship between authentic leadership and follower job performance: The mediating role of follower positivity in extreme contexts. The Leadership Quarterly, 23(3), 502-516. doi: 10.1016/j.leaqua.2011.12.004

Simons, T. (2002). Behavioral integrity: The perceived alignment between managers’ words and deeds as a research focus. Organization Science, 13(1), 18-35. doi: 10.1287/orsc.

Walumbwa, F. O., Avolio, B. J., Gardner, W. L., Wernsing, T. S. and Peterson, S. J. (2008). Authentic leadership: Development and validation of a theory-based measure. Journal of Management, 34(1), 89-126. doi: 10.1177/0149206307308913