The argument over which form of leadership works best seems unending in my opinion. As a L&D consultant, I have been exposed and been privy to various leadership models, however the continuing problems in business leadership over the past years have highlighted the need for a different kind of leadership.

Most leadership models advocate and ruminate Influence as the fundamental characteristic of leaders. It does hold true by definition-leadership by the dictionary means holding a position of power and designation.  Both these factors offer you an opportunity to exercise influence, but that’s not the only trait. What today’s leadership lack is Authenticity.

Authenticity means to be real and genuine. Authentic leader are not an imitation or a version of somebody else, and the most notable is their untiring display of consistency of values, beliefs, principles, morals and everything else that truly creates “guiding compass” Jeff Pfeffer from Standford University says, “the last thing a leader needs to be at crucial moments is authentic.” Insead’s Herminia Ibarra adds, “We have to find a way to fake it till we become it.” Wharton’s Adam Grant, who wrote in the New York Times said, “’Be yourself’ is actually terrible advice… Nobody wants to see your true self.”

Herminia Ibarra proposes two types of authentic leaders: “low self-monitors” and “high self-monitors.” Low self-monitors leader say whatever comes to mind, whereas high self-monitors observe carefully what they say for its influence on others.

This difference between the two types create a false contradiction as low self monitoring is clearly opposite of being authentic, which could include immaturity, insensitivity and showing very less concern towards other and the impression they make on others. Their behaviour is consistent, comparing to what they are in personal area and how they behave in public.

This difference generates a false contradiction because low self-monitoring is the opposite of being authentic. High self-monitoring is expressed by three main components: a willingness to be the centre of attention, sensitivity to others’ reactions, ability and willingness to regulate one’s behavior and to arouse positive reactions of the others.(Greenberg, Baron)

Authentic leaders choose their words and behaviors carefully to be acclimated to their audiences and to align their colleagues and teammates. This is possible only when one is sensitive to the idea of impact their own words and actions have on others.

Five point Authentic Leadership

1. Clear Insight & Vision: Authentic leaders have Vision- a big picture and bigger purpose. Although leaders should have vision, what is required is more than just a Vision. Leaders need wisdom and clear judgment for the present and deeper insight into the future. They ability to look at complex situations, gain clarity, and regulate a course of action is essential in authentic leadership

2. Take Initiative & Enterprising:Today’s world is increasingly impatient for results and expecting immediate outcomes, and so authentic leadership is constantly at test.  The continuous battle between short-term goal versus Long term visionary outcomes is always a cause of tension. However, intense perseverance of the long term objectives is hallmark of an authentic leader. They firmly believe in aligning their personal values while developing future leaders and thereby aiming at sustainable organisations

3. Exercise Influence: Authentic leaders reveal their true nature, and demonstrate a great character during the times that matter. They are continuously committed to their own learning in order to better understand themselves as a person and also to learn how others perceive the world. This revelation of themselves influences and inspires others, and can have a lighthouse effect on others. They are courageous to show their vulnerability, which generates the believability amongst the followers. Followers trail authentic leaders not through the manipulation of the usual carrot or stick strategy, or through threats of their power or position – but through compelling influence

4. Hold Impact:The degree of effectiveness of the leader can be measured not by his position or the amount of power the leader holds but how much impact the leader has on his people. Either the leader is instrumental in creating a real long lasting positive impact on them or he/she is not a leader.

5. Practice Integrity: A deep sense of self-awareness is a constant guiding force which grows and takes shape into a lifelong journey of learning through their personal experiences. The Have an ability to set their egos aside and being genuinely interested in truly empowering and developing others. Authentic leader are able to share their personal stories of achievements and more so of their failures, struggles and setbacks which resonates with others. Being in touch with their Values, Beliefs and the non-negotiable distinguishes authentic leaders from ordinary ones, helping them to navigate their way through all uncertainties.