Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Thank you Janet from Sweden!

I recently had an email from a psychology student in Sweden asking about the published 'gurus' in the field of Authentic Leadership research and any questionnaires which currently exist to measure AL.

Bruce Avolio is one of the most well published academic authors on the subject, whilst Bill George is probably the most well known practitioner with his book, True North.

Goffee & Jones with their book and Harvard Business Review article both entitled, "Why should anyone be Led by You?" straddle both theory and practice. They have a very easy writing style and are well worth a read.

As far as I am aware there isn't a commercially available 360 instrument that measures AL, certainly not within the UK anyway. This of course is one of the reasons that I am currently developing one myself within my PhD!

Walumbwa and colleagues (which includes Avolio) have developed a 360 in the US which they very generously make available for research purposes to bona-fide students, however I'm not aware of it being accompanied by a business-focused feedback report or any specific development activities.

I will post more about my own PhD research into AL in due course!

Walton & Weybridge CIPD event - part 2

So what's the difference then between Authentic Leadership and 'pseudo' Authentic Leadership? And why should anyone care?

Well, for those of you have studied, and remember, your leadership theory, of all the significant leadership theories that exist, Bass’ Transformational Leadership theory best links the concepts of leadership and authenticity in that it emphasizes the role that authenticity and morality play in the way that leaders transform organizations and lead their followers to higher levels of performance.

Bass suggests that authentic transformational leadership is particularly grounded in a leader's deeply held personal moral convictions and he contrasts this with pseudo-transformational leadership where such moral character is lacking and a leader only 'pretends' to hold certain moral convictions because they want to achieve the benefits that being a transformational leader can give them. The emphasis here with Bass as you will probably have noticed, is on the TRANSFORMATIONAL aspects of leadership rather than on AUTHENTICITY of the leader per se.

Bass & Steidlmeier in their 1999 paper, Ethics, character and authentic transformational leadership behaviour. (in) The Leadership Quarterly, 10, pp.181-217 make the point that the literature surrounding Transformational leadership has been consistently linked with historical literature on virtue and morality, such as those exemplified in the writings surrounding Confucian and Socratic philosophies. Therefore the moral character exemplified by authentic leaders is consistent with the Transformational leadership model.

However, as I will explore in future blog entries, the concept of Authentic Leadership goes beyond that of merely being transformational in Bass’ terms.

My best wishes as always,
Fiona x

Walton & Weybridge CIPD event - part 1

Last week I did a short evening workshop event in Surrey for one of the UK branches of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development.

WoW! What a wonderful and friendly branch! In fact, I would go so far as to say that it's the friendliest CIPD branch that I've ever been to, and that's all down to the leadership and combined personalities of the committee. Of course, as so often happens within the field of leadership, their friendly and professional approach is mirrored by their 'followers'; those members who travelled from far and wide to join us.

Thank you everyone for making the evening so enjoyable and the debates so lively!

A couple of really useful and interesting things that emerged from the debate were that people want some definitions of what 'Authentic' Leadership IS and what 'Authentic' Leaders DO (verses Charismatic Leaders or Servant Leaders for example)so here is my definition of what an Authentic Leader actuall IS:

“Someone who is both psychologically self-aware and philosophically ethically sound”

Now, I know that sounds slightly academic,- well, as I'm doing PhD in Authentic Leadership I guess that would fit! What I will do, now that my life is back on a more even keel and I've resumed my studies, is pick out some of the most relevant parts of both the academic writing on AL and also from the pragmatic, practitioner led stuff and post it up here for you in a way that I hope will be useful.

In the next post I will write more about one of the other interesting debates that we had last week about the difference between 'authentic' leadership and 'pseudo-authentic' leadership.........

My best wishes as always,
Fiona x