This will be a brief blog, as it’s just a management question that’s been on my mind for a while.

What’s the big deal about “authentic” leadership?

We hear a lot about authentic leadership these days.  It's often written about and discussed in management circles — a style of leadership characterized by genuine, honest, ethical behavior.

My reaction? Well of course leadership should be authentic!  It should be genuine and credible. I mean, what are the choices here? Is there really a reasonable alternative?

Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Should one advocate inauthentic leadership?

Or perhaps dishonest leadership? (Don’t know about you, but personally I like my leaders untrustworthy!)

Or maybe duplicitous leadership (Sounds pretty appealing, don’t you think?)

Or how about scheming leadership? (I’d like to work for one of those. Ha, in fact I think I already did!)

Hey, I wasn’t born yesterday. I spent four decades in the workforce and nearly a quarter century in Fortune 500 management.  Saw quite a bit over the years.  To be sure, economic necessity combined with fear can lead to all kinds of bizarre and dysfunctional leadership behavior.

But saying leadership should be authentic is like saying “Michael Jordan was a good basketball player.”

Well, sure, hard to disagree with that one.  No argument there.

As the saying goes, it’s a slam dunk.

This article first appeared at

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Victor Lipman heads Howling Wolf Management Training and is author of The Type B Manager.

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