Authentic Leadership in Contemporary Organizations

  • 08 Pages
  • Published On: 02-12-2023

Leaders can be described as people who bring about change and make a difference. Among other things, they are tasked with being able to create provide an attractive vision of how the organization, its employees and the society should look like in future. According to Chirimbu and Valgorici (2011), while contemporary management involves various skills and orientations, leadership revolves around each of us as an individual. Leadership is majorly concerned about how we interact with the people around us, as well as provide them with the opportunity to develop themselves. Vargolici and Chirimbu (2013) suggest that the contemporary leader should anticipate, make plans and develop strategies in an imaginative, proactive and cognitive manner.

As there are multiple management styles available to them, different leaders use different styles. Leaders must therefore be able to determine which type suits them best. The management style adopted and used by a leader will be based on and influenced by the needs of their teams, and the leaders’ own preferences and strengths. One type of leadership that has gained in prominence over the years is the authentic leadership.

This is whereby leaders practice genuine, honest and transparent behavior/leadership within the workplace with the aim of building strong relationships and foster trust in the organization. These qualities will inspire team members to follow the leader.


The four major components of authentic leadership are:

self-awareness; authentic leaders must constantly assess and reassess their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as values and beliefs. By knowing and understanding these factors, they are able to be more authentic and share them with others. This (self-awareness) can be achieved through self-reflection, remaining cognizant of feelings experienced, and asking for feedback.

relational transparency; leaders must be honest and transparent in their actions, feelings and thoughts, and when sharing them.

balanced processing; authentic leaders must take into account both opposing and supporting ideas and opinions in relation to decisions to be made and be willing to consider each. By seeking opposing ideas they single out flaws and avoid pitfalls. Balanced processing also promotes openness and honesty among employees as they share their opinions and ideas.

internalized moral perspective; they should be able to put the organizations’ needs first, instead of focusing on their needs and feelings. The organizations’ success becomes their primary objective.

Leadership theories

In order to effectively practice leadership, leaders must develop a critical understanding of the various theories and concepts that underpin leadership, its development as well as practice. They include: The Trait theory; Functional theory; Behavioral and Style theory; and Situational and contingency theory.

Role of Leadership in Contemporary Organizations

Today’s business environment is very dynamic and subject to changes. This presents organizations with challenges and increases business complexities and thus, difficulty in achieving organizational success. As such, there has been an increased need for organizations to develop agile and proactive leaders, through establishing effective leadership, required to ensure success in the turbulent business environment (Jossey-Bass, 2016).

Leaders (and leadership) play various roles in organizations. Wright and Noe (2016), for example, suggest the three key roles of leaders: finding a target; inflow; and training.

· Causing process- leaders should be able to recognize good ideas and support them. They should also be willing to accept the challenges that would arise from the implementation of these ideas. Overall, leaders should encourage innovation and innovative processes, and embrace them.

· Inspiring the desired vision- besides having a vision, leaders should also take the requires actions to inspire their teams to share in the vision.

· Allowing others to act- leaders cannot exist without teams; as such, leaders should empower and support their team members in their various tasks and allow them some autonomy.

· Modeling the path- leaders should exhibit behaviors which develop momentum and progress, thereby setting an example to their followers and gaining their loyalty.

· Encouraging the heart (motivating employees)- leaders should introduce and use emotions (e.g. celebrate victory, encourage confidence and self-esteem, etc.) that create a winning environment.

Contemporary Issues in Leadership

Organizations are, today more than ever, faced by a multitude of changes, challenges and issues. How well the leadership approaches these changes, issues and challenges will determine the organization’s effectiveness and success.

Contemporary issues in leadership include: technology and technological advancements; globalization; thinking out of the box; evolving group dynamics; mentoring; behaving ethically; selecting and retaining effective employees; making decisions effectively and quickly; dealing with and managing change and uncertainty, among others.

The focus of this presentation will be dealing with and managing change and uncertainty.

Dealing with and managing planned Organizational change and uncertainty

Implementing planned organizational change is among the most difficult tasks undertaken by leaders. Burnes (2015) and Cerne, Jaklic and Skerlavaj (2013) suggest that close to 65% of planned initiatives usually fail.

This failure has been attributed mostly to leaders’ failure to incorporate a human face to the changes, as well as their lack of integrity and efficiency. Cases of fraudulent practices by leaders leading to collapse or failure of organizations have resulted in a lot of attention being paid to the morality and ethics of leaders (Trevino, den Nieuwenoer and Kish-Gephart, 2014).

On the basis of authentic leadership, leaders are expected to accept responsibility, share factual information, ,avoid deceptive practices and lead with integrity and authenticity (Peus et al., 2012). With regard to planned organizational change, Kurt Lewin is viewed as the founding father (Burnes, 2015; Burnes and Cooke, 2012). Lewin (1947) proposed the three-step model of change, which included unfreezing, moving and refreezing, in implementing planned organizational changes. Lewin’s (1947) three-step change model is widely used since it strongly supports leadership interventions as well as the management of employees’ perceptions

Analysis of managing planned organizational change

Managing change is key to the growth, success and survival of organizations in today’s competitive and changing business environment. In the face of uncertainty about the future, organizations must develop authentic leadership that is better able to deal with and manage change. An organization’s leadership should be able to develop strategies aimed at coping with change as well as undertake strategic change initiatives that will enable the organization remain competitive (Johansson and Heide, 2018). Leadership also plays a critical role in influencing the organization’s members to adopt and develop the necessary behaviors and attitudes that are key to the success of the change process. Gill (2012) asserts that leadership is a prominent factor in the achievement of successful organizational change, followed by organizational values and communication. In this regard, authentic leadership plays a pivotal role.

Through authentic leadership, leaders can influence strong and important attitudes regarding change and cynicism about change among employees (Bommer, Rich and Rubin, 2015; Stanley, Meyer and Topolnytsky, 2015). A significant example of this attitude/behavior is employees’ openness to change and willingness to embrace it (Miller, Johnson and Grau, 2014). Authentic leadership will enable the leaders to be honest and truthful to their subordinates about impending changes and their likely impacts. Authentic leaders will also show their emotions, be ethical and transparent in their interactions with employees, and also act on the basis of their beliefs and values. Therefore, authentic leaders will only institute and support changes which they find to align with their values and which they believe are beneficial to not only the organization, but also the employees. Authentic leadership, in addition, will activate a number of learning and motivation mechanisms during the change process that contributes to an effective and successful implementation of the change (Nielssen and Randall, 2013).


Employees are not passive recipients of organizational changes, but rather active participants in the change process (Augustsson et al., 2017). It is therefore recommended that the organizations adopt one of the various change models, such as Lwein’s (1947) three-step change model in order to effectively implement planned changes. Leaders should also practice authentic leadership through which they will be able to influence the necessary attitudes, beliefs and behaviors among employees, for example their openness to change, which significantly impact on the change process and its outcomes.


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