The attached resource (from Sage Publications)?explores how existing frameworks of wisdom can provide assistance to ?ordinary? leaders in
solving the real-life ethical dilemmas they face.?Identify and discuss three (3) dilemma which you may be able to connect with from your own experiences.?
Authenticity occurs when an individual aligns personal values with action. Authenticity is an emerging field of
study that has largely grown out of the demand for increased ethics in leadership as a result of the many
corporate scandals of the early 21st century. Conceptual Overview
In management science, authenticity is manifested through authentic leadership. Authentic leaders operate
from a moral and ethical base, have a positive emotional orientation and high level of self-awareness, and are
consistent in words and actions. Authentic leaders have authentic relationships with followers and are focused
on follower development. Authentic leadership transcends the individual leader and, through positive modeling
and empowerment, results in employees who are enthusiastic about and committed to their role in the
Authenticity is predominantly rooted in the humanistic and positive psychology literature, and is particularly
related to ethics, morality, the self, and identity theory. The historical roots include Mead's conceptualization of
self, Maslow's notion of the self-actualized person, and positive forms of leadership, such as servant,
charismatic, transformational, and spiritual. To understand authenticity and authentic leadership, a review of
the main authenticity scientists is required and presented below.
Erickson's 1995 theoretical work on the relevance of authenticity for individuals and society is grounded in
identity theory. She maintains that an individual's authenticity is highly influenced by society and culture, but
that the degree to which an individual is authentic rests purely with the self. She proposes that authenticity is a
commitment to self-values and that an individual's sense of relative authenticity is the degree to which an
individual accomplishes the goals or commitments one has for the self. The self (including the authentic self) is
espoused as complex, changing, and often inconsistent.
George brought the concept of authentic leadership to the mainstream in 2003. His book focuses primarily on
authentic leadership examples at Medtronic, where he was Chairman and CEO. George claims that authentic
leadership is the most effective type of leadership and that emulating past leaders is not effective. He proposes
five dimensions of authentic leadership: purpose, values, heart, relationships, and self-discipline.
May and colleagues discuss the moral components and decision-making processes inherent in authentic
leadership. This theoretical work is based on decisionmaking literature, positive psychology, and Luthans's
conceptualization of positive organizational behavior. Chan and colleagues present a model of how the moral
aspect of authentic leadership is developed, which is built around three main authentic leader attributes: (1)
authentic decision making; (2) authentic behavior; and (3) authentic leadership development.
Avolio and colleagues present a framework to explain the relationship of authentic leadership to follower
attributes. The authors define authentic leaders as individuals high in authenticity who know themselves and
their beliefs, and who act upon both while maintaining transparency in their relationships. They propose that an
authentic leader's hope, trust, and positive emotions manifest in followers through personal and social
identification, and hence, followers develop certain work-related attitudes and behaviors, such as commitment
1 and job performance. Critical Commentary and Future Directions
While authenticity has existed since before the Greeks said ?to thine own self be true,? the concept of authentic
leadership is in its infancy and lacks definitional agreement. Furthermore, researchers still need to overcome
multitudes of hurdles to empirically validate the construct. For example, identity theorists would hypothesize
that the self is always changing, inconsistent, and influenced by the environment. How can an instrument
account for these fluctuations? Additionally, researchers must decide the factors required for validation. Are the
followers, the individual leader, the situation, or various organizational performance metrics the most salient?
What role do the environment and/or culture play? In addition, can authentic leadership exist if the company is
not performing well?
Authenticity researchers rarely delve beyond the individual level or across cultures. Future research may be
focused on the authenticity of groups and organizations, and the possibility of authenticity flowing upward or
downward through the organization. This would also necessitate a study of how individuals, groups, and
organizations learn authenticity, or if authenticity can be learned. Future research may also consider how
different cultures (i.e., collectivist versus individualist) view authenticity and how this knowledge might help
leaders increase their effectiveness across cultures.
While authenticity and authentic leadership is most prevalent in not-for-profit and religious organizations, its
popularity as an effective and inspiring method of leadership is beginning to transcend those boundaries.
However, if authentic leadership is to endure, it will surely need more empirical testing and a stronger link to
performance and results.
?Michelle DeLauer Further Readings
Avolio, B. J., Gardner, W. L., Walumba, F. O., Luthans, F., and May, D. Unlocking the mask: A look at the
process by which authentic leaders impact follower attitudes and behaviors. The Leadership Quarterly vol. 15
(2004). pp. 801?823.
Erickson, R. J. The importance of authenticity for self and society. Symbolic Interaction vol. 18 no. (2)(1995).
Gardner, W. L., Avolio, B. A., & Walumba, F. O. (2005). Authentic leadership theory and practice: Origins,
effects, and development. Oxford, UK: Elsevier.
George, W. (2003). Authentic leadership: Rediscovering the secrets to lasting value. San Francisco: JosseyBass.
Luthans, F., & Avolio, B. (2003). Authentic leadership development approach. In K. S. Cameron, ed. , J. E.
Dutton, ed. , & R. E. Quinn (Eds.), Positive organizational scholarship: Foundations of a new discipline (pp. 241?
261). San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.
May, D. R., Chan, A., Hodges, T., and Avolio, B. J. Developing the moral component of authentic leadership.
Organizational Dynamics vol. 32 (2003). pp. 247?260.
DeLauer, Michelle. "Authenticity." International Encyclopedia of Organization Studies. Ed. . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2007. 83-85.
SAGE Reference Online. Web. 30 Jan. 2012.
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