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Moving from Authentic Management to Authentic Leadership

To build a better leadership presence and a more authentic leadership style, evaluate where you fall on the spectrum of authentic leadership vs. authentic management.

A woman in a business suit is smiling in front of a group of people.

​Executive leadership training begins with your own personal mission and vision. Self-leadership is built upon the premise that you lay a solid foundation—one that is filled with the necessary tools to help you build the foundation for personal excellence. To build a better leadership presence and a more authentic leadership style, apply the leadership competency of authenticity.

When being an authentic leader or manager, it would help to consider the difference and how you would lead more effectively. Having a healthy, positive relationship with your followers is key to your success and knowing if you are being authentic when dealing and communicating with them will improve your effectiveness when influencing behavior.

In an interview with Harvard professor Bill George, he says that if you want to be a real authentic leader, "you have to follow your true north. You have to be the real person that you're called to be." 

In an interview with Michael Useem, a professor of management at Wharton School, he says that "if you don't feel that you're being the authentic you, and if you don't really have a North Star yet, how can you develop that authenticity?"

Authentic leadership and management is not a dichotomy. Yet, leaders should strive to move from authentic management to the higher level of authentic leadership. To evaluate where you are in the process of becoming an authentic leader, it can be helpful to consider the following scale of authenticity.

​Authentic Leadership
​Authentic Management
1​​Doing things for stakeholders
​Doing things for the least among us
2​​Coaching people from the lower levels of the firm
​Evaluating people for their best
​3​Taking a proactive approach to mentorship
​Taking a reactive approach to problems in society
4​​Having a long-term perspective with resilience
​Having a short-term perspective to control problems
5​​Enhancing trust remotely
​Controlling subordinates by giving them a voice
6​​Innovating to save time
​Performing functions once correctly
​7​Focusing on minoritized individuals and helping them succeed
​Focusing on a diversified structure of optimization
8​​Challenging norms to reduce stereotyping
​Maintaining the status to secure jobs


For the first dimension, scoring a five on doing things for stakeholders or doing things for the least among us would be a high score. Focusing on stakeholders covers the least among us but given the fact that we must reach out to the least among us in both charitable and promotable ways is very important.

Scoring five on the second dimension, coaching people from the lower levels of the firm and evaluating people for their best potential would be a high score. Leaders need to be both a coach to followers and continuously evaluate them to help them reach their best potential.

Dimension three is an important viewpoint of authentic leadership. Leaders need to be proactive in mentoring followers and also take a proactive approach to problems in society. Thus, scoring closer to one on this dimension is the most appropriate score.

Dimension four is another important viewpoint for leaders to consider. A solid four to six would be a good score because having a long-term perspective with resilience is very important but also planning for the short term to control problems is also important. This is a strategic dimension with planning for both the short- and long-term.

Dimension five is an interesting perspective as leaders are more engaged in electronic leadership. A solid score of four would suffice because leaders want to be able to enhance trust remotely to keep subordinates satisfied while giving them a voice. The controlling part is less appealing but there is some control in developing the electronic leadership presence

Dimension six is a split decision of a solid score of five because innovating to save time along with performing functions "once" correctly is very important for authentic leaders and managers. This is the Total Quality Management perspective.

Dimension seven is important today as leaders need to initiate and manage diversity well. A solid score of five is best as leaders help minoritized individuals succeed coupled with a diversified structure or optimization.

Dimension eight is a trickier one. Challenging norms to reduce stereotyping is very important and securing jobs is also in demand right now and will continue to be. The trickier question is maintaining the status quo. While this may appear appropriate, it falls short of authentic leadership. Therefore, a score of three or four is the most appropriate for this final dimension.

The post-pandemic era has shown that companies and workers need an authentic leader. Examining and measuring your leadership skills in the various dimensions of authentic leadership is a great start to becoming that leader.  
Michael J. Provitera is a management consultant, an associate professor of organizational behavior and author of Mastering Self-Motivation.
Mostafa Sayyadi is a business book author and a contributor to business publications.


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