What is authentic leadership, and what are two reasons why authenticity is important for leaders?

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The idea that a leader ought to be truthful and self-aware is an ancient one, but the specific modern concept of authentic leadership has arisen over the last couple of decades in the work of scholars and business leaders such as Bill George. George, a professor at the Harvard Business ...

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The idea that a leader ought to be truthful and self-aware is an ancient one, but the specific modern concept of authentic leadership has arisen over the last couple of decades in the work of scholars and business leaders such as Bill George. George, a professor at the Harvard Business School and former CEO of Medtronic, has published several books on the topic, beginning with Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value in 2003.

According to George, authentic leadership involves building relationships with subordinates which have a strong ethical foundation and are based on honesty and trust. Such leaders ensure that their own ethical values are fully aligned with those of the company so that they are able to be positive in their presentation of and commitment to company policies, generating enthusiasm in members of the teams they lead.

There has been some criticism of the scholarship surrounding the ideas of authentic leadership, suggesting that it is pseudoscientific and jargon-ridden. However, as a general concept rather than an attempt to create a scientific theory, authentic leadership is important for leaders. In the first place, it ensures that the team can have confidence in the leader and feel able to share their ideas and concerns in an atmosphere of mutual transparency. In the second place, it ensures that the leader is self-aware enough to have a strong moral foundation and to ensure that this is in harmony with the company's core values, meaning that the leader can be both positive and ethical in fulfilling his/her role.

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