Cutting-Edge Leadership

The best in current leadership research and theory, from cultivating charisma to transforming your organization

What Is Authentic Leadership? Do You Have It?

A relatively new theory of leadership focuses on leaders dealing in a straightforward and honest way with followers. A prominent theory of authentic leadership views it as composed of four distinct components. Read More


I don't really understand the use of the adjective "authentic" here. I would understand "trustworthy" or "reliable", but authentic feels off to me, for the very reason you give in the article: the world is full of "morally corrupt and dysfunctional leaders". If most leaders are morally corrupt and dysfunctional, then wouldn't an authentic leader be a morally corrupt and dysfunctional one by definition?

I'll go even further: there's a *reason* why most leaders are corrupt and dysfunctional, namely that this is the type of personalities which appeals most to most people. So what's the point of reaching for "authentic leadership" if this is not what people want in a leader??

I'm not saying we shouldn't all strive to develop the qualities you listed in the article, but at the same time, we shouldn't fool ourselves or anyone else: possessing these qualities is far more likely to DISqualify us for leadership than being morally corrupt and dysfunctional. In effect, striving for authentic leadership pretty much ensures we'll never get into a leadership position in the first place!

Instead of the word

Instead of the word “authentic”, I’d substitute the word “successful”. A successful leader can rev the workforce into high performance. Yes, you list a few very essential traits to solid leadership, but there’s so much more to it than this. When leaders complete a Leadership Attraction Profile, they discover their strongest and weakest traits. Then, with the help of leadership coaching, they can learn to sharpen their traits for the workplace.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • You may quote other posts using [quote] tags.

More information about formatting options

Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D., is the Henry R. Kravis Professor of Leadership and Organizational Psychology at Claremont McKenna College.


Subscribe to Cutting-Edge Leadership

Current Issue

Let It Go!

It can take a radical reboot to get past old hurts and injustices.