Authentic leadership theorist proposed that trust, behavior, and emotions are what exert authentic leaders’ influence on their followers. The formula that creates an authentic leader includes: early challenges, relationship influences, education, crises, and life experiences (Avolio, Walumbwa, & Weber, 2009). Authentic leadership theory is gaining increased attention in the scholarly communities (Klenke, 2007). An authentic leader is suggested to be developed based on their life’s story over time and through introspection. An authentic leader can help followers find meaning and self-awareness. Trasformational leadership can be accomplished by building optimism, confidence, and fostering positive ethical environments (Avolio, & Gardner, 2005). Theorist Bill George suggested that corporations select leaders based on their character and not charisma. He argued that leaders’ values and motivational abilities needed to be genuine in order to restore public trust. Authentic leaders influence followers from a moral perspective. This type of influence is said to energize followers by creating meaning and constructing positive reality. There are four elements of self-awareness in an authentic leader: values, cognitions regarding identity, emotions, and motives/goals. Authentic leadership constructs the importance of leaders’ inner life instead of focusing on leadership as having or doing. It assumes that the inner imaginations and spiritual identity are what guide and motivate the leaders’ behavior (Klenke, 2007).
Growing evidence suggest that an authentic leader approach is effective for organizations. This type of leadership is desirable and considered to achieve positive outcomes. The term authenticity is described as “owning one’s personal experiences.” If individuals know themselves, they will display higher levels of stability. Persons who are not authentic are believed to be fragile, biased, and will have lowered self-esteem. Authentic behavior will reflect consistency based on the leaders’ values, beliefs, and actions (Walumbwa, Avolio, Gardner, Wernsing, & Peterson, 2008). Authentic leaders are considered expressive of their authentic self and known to foster high-quality relationships while projecting their values and visions onto followers (Klenke, 2007; Northouse, 2013, p. 259; Walumbwa, Avolio, Gardner, Wernsing, & Peterson, 2008). The theory of authentic leadership is a result of writings on transformational leadership, which suggest that not all transformational leaders are genuine (Avolio, Walumbwa, & Weber, 2009). Authentic leadership is considered a transparent and ethical leader that is open to accept followers’ input (Avolio, Walumbwa, & Weber, 2009; Avolio, & Gardner, 2005).