Authenticity is always looked at as a core value of exemplary leadership. The Authenticity Theory of Leadership finds its origins in Greek philosophy from ancient times. However, the theory has emerged at the forefront only in recent decades with great emphasis being laid on authenticity as the paramount virtue of leadership.

To elaborate, authentic leadership focuses on developing positive working relationships that are driven by honesty, transparency, and genuineness. Having said that, leaders lay great emphasis on the need to build strong relationships with their followers or employees to drive positive outcomes.

The highlight features of the theory are listed below.

Key Features of the Authentic Leadership Theory

  • Authentic leaders aim to provide transparency in the work environment to inspire the best in their subordinates. Transparency is one of the principal traits of authentic leadership and it leads to great working relationships. Authentic leadership is based on strong interpersonal virtues that focus on relationship building and collaboration. Furthermore, transparency and strong relationships lead to high trust.

  • As per the theory, the intrapersonal aspect of authentic leadership looks into the self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-control of a leader. Authentic leaders are originally proficient in these skills and traits and are hard to imitate.

  • Authentic leadership is developed over time and is sometimes inspired by specific impacts that can have huge implications on their personal lives or professional careers.

  • Authentic leaders aim at establishing strong ethical foundations by promoting moral perspectives and leading from the front to encourage work ethics among team members. Authentic leaders aim at cultivating greater motivation by addressing ethical issues in real time.

Probing forward, it is also essential to look at the four major components of authentic leadership that are mentioned below.

4 Crucial components of authentic leadership

Key components of authentic leadership

1. Self-awareness

Authentic leaders are well aware of their own strengths and weaknesses and base their actions on the understanding of the same. They constantly work on their weaknesses and with their strengths, they aim to boost the morale of the team and benefit the organization in incredible ways. It would not be incorrect to say that exemplary self-awareness is one of the most charismatic traits of authentic leaders.

2. Balanced leadership

Authentic leaders believe in a balanced approach to decision making taking into consideration the pros as well as the cons. They try to incorporate different opinions and opposing views before making decisions.

3. Reasonable transparency

They have a rational approach to transparency and do not keep much confidentiality with their employees in terms of information. Whatever reasonable amount of transparency is needed to enhance team productivity, they deliver on that. In the course of fostering transparency, authentic leaders rely on open communication and regular feedback sharing.

4. High priority for organizational successs

Authentic leaders put the interests of the organization above their personal interests and also encourage others to do so. Authentic leaders have great conviction and they are even willing to take up challenges and work extra hours to lead their organizations to success.

Relevance of the theory in the contemporary corporate world

Authentic leadership proves to be a great leadership style in correlation with the contemporary business world. Employees have huge respect for their leaders when leaders are genuine, honest and promote great transparency in the organization. It further leads to high trustworthiness in the organization which further leads to higher productivity among employees and great resilience to challenges. To substantiate, as per Harvard Business Review, employees in high trust companies exhibit 50 percent higher productivity, 76 percent more engagement, and 74 percent less stress in the workplace.

Having said that, authentic leadership is one of the most progressive leadership styles using which employers can cultivate high-performing cultures and achieve great outcomes. A blend of authentic leadership and transformational leadership can literally provide strong competitive advantages to an organization. Also, strong working relationships lead to great collaboration and now when organizations are going largely remote, the significance of effective collaboration is greater than ever before. Therefore, in the fast-changing corporate world where remote work cultures and hybrid cultures are thriving, authentic leadership can be a great approach to accomplishing organizational goals.

A real-world example of authentic leadership

Jack Dorsey leadership style analysis

Jack Dorsey leadership style analysis

If we look around, there are some decent examples of authentic leadership in the modern corporate world. However, among these, one person who stands out from the crowd is

Jack Dorsey co-founded Twitter in the year 2006 with Ev Williams, Noah Glass, and Biz Stone and remained the CEO of the company till 2021. Today, Twitter is the premier microblogging platform in the world with a market capitalization of USD 30.90 billion as per Yahoo Finance. Twitter has really risen through the ranks under the excellent and authentic leadership of Jack Dorsey. Fascinating Twitter insights and statistics reveal that more than 500 million tweets are posted on the platform every day. In fact, Twitter has around 220 million daily active users who offer monetary benefits to the company.

Although Jack Dorsey is one of the four founders of Twitter, the success of Twitter can be largely attributed to his unique leadership style which has always been authentic. Jack Dorsey has always believed in being honest about failing, accepting failure with integrity, and cultivating transparency within teams. His genuineness, integrity, and honest approach as a leader have always kept his team members motivated and highly engaged. Moreover, he does lay great emphasis on open communication and relationship building in the best interest of the company.

He is often looked at as an authentic leader who has great leadership qualities including the open acceptance of failure which is rare. Most leaders are not very comfortable with owning up to failures or accepting responsibility for them but an authentic leader would always do that. Today, Jack Dorsey is not only the face of Twitter but also the face of authentic leadership. He sets a fine example of how authentic leaders can lead their organizations to great success by laying a strong foundation of trust, moral perspectives, and transparency. In fact, a lot of leaders can learn from him that the investment an employer makes in cultivating trust and honesty will always pay dividends in real-time.


How does Authentic Leadership differ from other leadership theories?

Authentic Leadership stands out from other theories by placing a strong emphasis on a leader's self-awareness and the alignment of their actions with their core values. It prioritizes building meaningful relationships and encourages leaders to be open and vulnerable with their followers.

Can anyone become an authentic leader?

Yes, Authentic Leadership is considered a model that can be developed and cultivated by anyone. It emphasizes continuous self-reflection, growth, and learning, allowing individuals to become more authentic and effective leaders over time.