Are you an authentic leader?

10 June 2014

We speak with psychologist and author Niki Harré to find out what authentic leadership is and how it can help you put values first in your business. Read on for details of our new course on Authentic Leadership.

Over the past 50 years, more than 1000 studies have tried to find out what makes an authentic leader. The Harvard Business Review commissioned a report on authentic leadership, interviewing more than 125 leaders from CEOs, profit and non-profit, midcareer and young leaders from around the world, to find out how people become and remain authentic leaders.

The research team was astonished to discover there are no universal characteristics, traits, skills or styles that defined authentic leadership – Which is great news for us. We can all develop this type of leadership within ourselves, and use it to good effect, no matter what step of the ‘career ladder’ we are on.

After analysing 3000 pages of interview transcripts, the Harvard research team concluded that authentic leadership emerges from the leaders’ ability to understand their life stories.

“[The leaders] were constantly testing themselves through real-world experiences… in doing so, they discovered the purpose of their leadership, and learned that being authentic made them even more effective,” the report says.

By taking the time to examine experiences and reflect upon them, an authentic leader is able to learn from them, thus better aligning their business with the values that inspire people.

“Authentic leaders are not necessarily managers, but they do work with people and influence the choices those people make,” says Niki Harré, psychologist and Associate Professor at The University of Auckland.

Here are five things we have learned about Authentic Leaders:

  • An authentic leader never manipulates others into action, and is always clear about the purpose and goal of any activity.
  • Authentic leaders are constantly learning and seeking to improve. By doing so, they motivate others to learn and seek to improve. An authentic leader asks for, and listens to, honest feedback.
  • Authentic leaders do not seek power over others, but seek the power to do what they believe is right.
  • Authentic leaders develop self-awareness through persistent and often courageous self-exploration.
  • An authentic leader uses formal and informal support networks to help them stay grounded and lead integrated lives.

SBN has worked with Niki Harré to develop a ground breaking, five-week personal development course designed to help people develop their authentic leadership skills.

“Whether you’re a CEO, a sustainability manager, or running your own business, this course is an incredible professional and personal development opportunity for anyone who wants to develop their authentic leadership skills, and learn how to become more integrated and authentic as an individual through the work they do,” says Rachel Brown, SBN CEO.

Applications are now open for participants to take part in SBN’s Authentic Leadership course, led by Niki Harré, beginning on Friday 8 August.

Click here to view the event details.

To watch a 15 minute video about Niki’s acclaimed book, Psychology for a Better World, click here

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