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Authentic Leadership

In order to properly assess how the Nyberg and Sveningsson (2013) article views the three themes of Authentic Leadership, who utilize the common elements suggested by Caza and Jackson, requires a review of the Northouse (2012) textbook.

The Northouse section on self-awareness utilizes Walumbwa. Self-awareness is a process that relates to insights of ones abilities, morality, weaknesses, emotional state, and sense of self.  These qualities, providing the basis of self, respecting ones internal voice, informs the ability to make decisions that lead to realizing morally-correct goals.  Further, this knowledge of individual qualities is critical to being able to project a self that is authentic (Northouse 2012 pp 201-202).  In fact, Northouse suggests, the higher the self-awareness, the more others will ascribe authenticity (202).  As expressed by William (Nyberg and Sveningsson 2013, 445), the suggested form of examination seems to be an introspective exercise, and static.

Nyberg and Sveningsson challenge the idea that an essential ‘true self’ is always a positive thing (Nyberg and Sveningsson 2013, 438).  They say: it is “difficult to construct a true self in a socially varying, relational dynamic and dynamic workplace” (Nyberg and Sveningsson 2013, 440).

Self-discipline is related to George’s consistency (Northouse 2012, 196, Fig 9.1).  Self-discipline relates to keeping in mind ones’ morality, beliefs, and goals when making decisions.  Thus making decisions already have a basis, thus taking most of the anxiety and therefore presenting an unruffled, moderate response.  This consistency allows followers to have a better understanding of how their leader will react.  That leads to less stress and more confidence in workers activities, and their willingness to ask questions.

Nyberg and Sveningsson mention that “natural goodness is highly problematic because of its self-referential and tautological nature” (Nyberg and Sveningsson 2013, 440).  The idea of inherent goodness is impossible; for instance, whose goodness is best? The emergence of best practices, which are applied to almost everything, is probably a good starting point, which is not based on goodness, but achieving efficient process with the least problems.

Returning to our definition, Northouse (2012) utilizes Walumbwa to discuss relational transparency represents how one presents their persona to followers. The leader should present “core feelings, motives, and inclinations in an appropriate manner” (Northouse 2012, p 203), in order to demonstrate ones communications are genuine.

The leaders Nyberg and Sveningsson studied utilize metaphors to express their qualities mention (Nyberg and Sveningsson 2013, 444).  For instance, it is easier to express ones ‘authentic self’ when utilizing a metaphor of a coach.  Not only is it easier to utilize metaphors as a vehicle in constructing a ‘self,’ are tried-and-true memes, thus can be comfortable that those qualities are appropriate and the correct format to express to others.

Northouse suggests that Authentic Leadership is an essential quality, whereas Nyberg and Sveningsson suggest that it should be a constructionist approach (Nyberg and Sveningsson 2013, 440)

As mentioned above, Nyberg and Sveningsson indicate self-knowledge is a constantly changing because it needs to conform to changing social and situational norms (Nyberg and Sveningsson 2013, 439).  Thus, they reject the intrinsic, introverted form suggested by Northouse and those Northouse reflected, including Walumbwa and George, and instead embrace a constructionist form, requiring discussion and action as well as reflection.  The constructionist form is more accessible to those who may not be a ‘born leader.’

In order to resolve the conflict between their individual qualities, their constructed persona, and what was necessary, learned to model and express their abilities and action in terms of common metaphors.  The metaphors used included Mother Teresa, The Good Samaritan, Army Officer, and ‘balance using the throttle and the break.’  William suggests that there is disconnect between his nature as talkative and the follower’s desire to be heard, where he is holding back.  (Nyberg and Sveningsson 2013, 447).  Lisa says that she constantly pulls back from being an ‘army officer’ (Nyberg and Sveningsson 2013, 446).  Joe says, he has a great deal of compassion ‘Mother Teresa’ in him, which is opposite his toughness (Nyberg and Sveningsson 2013, 447).  Thus all three fight their inherent nature (thereby constructing a persona, as opposed to expressing their persona) of forcefulness, which the view as an essential part of leadership.  The construction industry is not unique in wanting tough leaders, but it is interesting to see that these construction industry leaders actually attempting to pull back from their inherent nature, which is most likely why they were chosen as leaders in the first place.


Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and Practice (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Nyberg, D., & Sveningsson, S. (2014, October). Paradoxes of authentic leadership” Leader identity struggles. Leadership, 10(4), 437-455. doi:10:1177/1742715013504425

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