The Authentic Leader

The Authentic LeaderRob Goffee and Gareth Jones in their book Why Should Anyone Be Led By You discuss what it takes to be an authentic leader.

Traditional approaches view leadership as a series of competencies to be learnt and developed. Whereas authentic leaders rely on being themselves and being responsive to the people and situations they encounter. Here’s a comparison of traditional and authentic leadership.


The dictionary defines authentic as having “undisputed origins”. As a leader, this means that your actions are consistent with a common source. And, that common source is you and your sense of self. It’s demonstrated by a coherence between your words and your deeds.

Traditional Versus Authentic

Traditional Leader

  • Strong psychological bias that aims to identify the characteristics of leaders
  • Leadership qualities are inherent to the individual
  • Ongoing search for the Leadership Recipe
  • Does not consider the changing leadership context
  • Compare yourself to list of competencies and improve your weaknesses
  • Learn by imitating other leaders
  • Excessive focus on inner drives of the leader – emotional intelligence
  • Knowing yourself is important and not enough

Authentic Leader

  • There are no universal leadership characteristics
  • Leadership is something we do with other people
  • Identify and deploy your own personal leadership assets
  • Leadership fits the context
  • Leadership is a relationship between the leader and the led
  • Effective leaders have an over-arching sense of purpose, with sufficient self-knowledge.
  • Effective leaders don’t know it all and they do know enough.

Derived from the Book Rapper issue: Authentic.

Next in this series: Three Leadership Axioms


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