Last century was full of inventions and social changes. The way of people’s thinking, doing, living differs a lot from that existing at the beginning of the 20th century. The technique and electronic innovations led to new abilities, opportunities and productivity. Such notions as career, perspective, entrepreneurship, man-woman equality and leadership came into language to become common. The factories, firms and companies do not need bosses any more, they require leaders and they require them at each level of their structure. The meaning of the word ‘leader’ is clear for everyone, it is a person, who leads or commands a group or organization. But 20th century has got to it some adding features. The leader should be wise, successful, respected and recognized. The leader must know how to make prosperous its organization and convince, organize, inspire employees. Everything what a leader does to achieve written before is commonly called leadership.
The scientists and psychologists tried to establish the accurate styles, descriptions or personality features of the big leaders for the last few decades and did not cope. The one may learn someone’s experience and some strategies, but nobody can repeat a leader’s success just by complete imitation of his/hers actions and habits. This leads to the conclusion, that a leader as leadership is rather personal and individual phenomenon or, as it may be called in the 21st century, authentic.
Ideal contemporary authentic leader should speak his or hers truth, have rich moral fiber, be courageous, build team and create communities, deeply know him-/herself, be a dreamer, commit to excellence rather than perfection and leave a legacy. Success is wonderful, but significance is even better for an authentic leader, when truth is the main guide for authentic leadership. To be successful and closer to this ideal type of leadership nowadays blind man’s leaders should keep promises, practice communication, do not cut corners, never hide mistakes, purify motivations and never make people ask. The complex of these notions is based on truth, which relies on persuasion and persuasion in its part relies on leadership. Besides truth an authentic leader focuses on a passion for his/hers purpose, strictly follows his/hers principles and rules by his/hers heart and head. As a rule the authentic leaders establish permanent close and reliable relationships and have self-willpower to achieve results. They know who they are and had perfectly examined their inner world and psychology. The authentic leaders, as authentic leadership itself, do not identify any universal characteristics, traits, skills, or styles that led to their success, even being authentic makes them more effective, irreplaceable and uncompetitive.
The term ‘authentic leadership’ and its definition
The term ‘authentic leadership’ was born in the 20th century. Previously simple leadership notion existed. The one who was able to organize masses was called a leader and his/her way of commanding – leadership. Different business, social and historical leaders appeared in the human pages of history. Some of them were strict, another forbearing, some insipid, when other feared subordinates to death to increase their productivity, some took total control over their organization, another just pointed at the direction stimulating to creativity and independency, but each of them had done something, what will never be repeated. Napoleon, Cleopatra, Mother Teresa, Abraham Lincoln, nowadays Steve Jobs and Barack Obama are samples of the great leaders. It has been already mentioned, that the scientists could not define common leadership features, but they distinguished few types of the leadership behavior. There is autocratic, charismatic, servant, bureaucratic, people-oriented, transactional, transformational, task-oriented and laissez-faire leadership. Each of these types was characterized by own skills, habits and result-achieving measures.
New leadership type of in the dawn of the 21st century
Quick accelerating changes outmode old ways of thinking. Executives and business leaders are beginning to look to the eternal spiritual truth of oneness, not only for personal salvation in these most challenging of times but as the source for a new, deeper, and higher perspective, which will help them to engage in the global marketplace. That is why the authentic leadership concept appears, which embraces some conceptual roots of humanistic psychology to make world better and theoretical foundations of positive psychology to make the world and employees more optimistic and brave. Another reason of quick development of authentic leadership propaganda is the world improving matter. Nowadays strategic leadership is dominated by greediness, competitiveness, ego and power, a lack of sympathy and pitiless. Such kind of leadership can not be trusted and rarely achieve aims by the true ways. As a result humanity faces such challenges as a world recession, corruption, employment age, disability, gender, race or sexual discrimination legislation, having enough food on the Earth but still having starving, the constant commercial demand for ever lower costs whilst at the same time consumers demand ever higher quality goods and services, the rape of our planet and an inability to live peacefully and successfully with each other. Social personality disorder, obsessive compulsive personality disorder and narcissism prevail in nowadays leaders. All these leadership features are bad. Such as anti-social personality disorder makes leader to stay too much task focused, as a rule they lead worldly life, get new acquaintances and accent successful and beneficial relationships’ developing. Obsessive compulsive personality disorder of leaders make them obsessed by the rules following, they are often workaholics and get great pleasure from working very hard. From their subordinators they will demand the same work devotions. Narcissistic leaders always are more tasks focused than other people are focused. They are often charming and full of energy, but too self-serving and caring more about power than about everyone’s well-being. Thus, there is a danger, that good leadership with its pro-sociality, collaboratively, purposefulness and compassionate will be under-valued, and eroded rather than encouraged. For this reason a new formula of ideal leadership was created. It is authentic leadership with everyone’s uniqueness but truth, fairness, principles, respect and competency orientation, such as employees want to be a part of something meaningful and worthwhile, they want to trust their leaders and to be trusted.
Authentic leadership as a new construct has not been completely analyzed and as an ideal leadership style for nowadays society meets some criticism too. Opponents of this idea argue that a person can not fully understand him/herself, such as each person can not fully cognize itself till the end of the life, when self-awareness reminds to be one of the main traits of the notion. The second reason of authentic leadership providing impossibility is significant difference between theory and practice. A person may speak a lot about truth and even act rightly and fairly under the calm circumstances, but such as leadership itself is challenging, competitive, full of risks and deadlines, the further high moral behavior will be under the question. Will the leader stay the same calm and confident in the prosperity and critical moments of his firm, group, company, organization existing? Will the authentic leader be able to put at stake bankruptcy just to act trustworthily and fairly?
Of course, an ideal idea of the authentic leadership can not be so ideally put into practice and some psychological and self-preservation factors will take place. But as Buddoes-Jones claims, “nowadays need of more self-aware leaders, better quality thinking and a focus on transformative, pro-social, sustainable and collaborative leadership that is people-focused and values-led rather than simply profit driven is undeniable” (Buddoes-Jones 2011). Young & Rubicam chairman and CEO Ann Fudge once supported, “All of us have the spark of leadership in us, whether it is in business, in government, or as a nonprofit volunteer. The challenge is to understand ourselves well enough to discover where we can use our leadership gifts to serve others. Take responsibility for developing yourself” (Klenke 2007) and there is nothing harmful in this process. Following the authentic leadership rule does not guarantee to make someone wealthier or world-famous, because depends a lot from the life experience and surviving, which build the character, but for sure it will help to find inner destination and following the vital principles of truth and fairness make world better and lighter. One more pros for authentic leadership accent that nowadays the most effective leaders are authentic chameleons. As a chameleon they always adapt to context but still remain a chameleon, or otherwise saying, themselves or authentic.
In the 21st century the old ways do not work any more and the old explanations explain nothing. To survive and feel comfortable in this brave new world the society needs a new kind of the leader. To be a leader always meant to be courageous, but contemporary leader should also possess an individual approach to developing, to be self-awareness and truth-oriented. This type of leader is called authentic leader and his/hers manner of leading – authentic leadership, which is rather new and still not fully tested phenomena. The appearance of this type of the leadership was caused by the crucial nowadays rules and principles of business leading and people’s tendency to higher-values search. Pros and cons of the authentic leadership are constantly discussed and have some opponents, but still have more supporters, as being the ideal example of the leadership style it may cause no harm, just some anticipations impracticability.