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The impact of authentic leadership on employee performance

Updated: Jun 26, 2020

In an effort to sustain their positions and succeed in an increasingly demanding and challenging professional environment, leaders often feel a need to assume a particular 'role'. A role that they feel reflects the environment they find themselves in, or the perceived expectations of those around them.

However, the overwhelming body of research suggests that a key differentiating factor between those that 'manage' and those that 'lead' is authenticity.

Unlike the traditional management models, the authentic leadership model is based upon the importance of a leader being true to themselves. When leaders take action inspired by their own values and beliefs, their actions and behaviors are perceived as authentic, and genuine, by those around them.

These traits immediately elicit interest, trust, and a greater willingness to engage, and rally around the leaders vision - who wouldn't support and follow someone they like and trust?

Indeed, empirical studies confirm that leaders exhibiting authentic leadership behaviors are significantly more likely to have higher performing employees.

And while certain 'carrot and stick' management practices can arguably achieve similar outcomes, they tend to be short term at best, and counterproductive at worst.

So what is Authentic Leadership?

At its core, authentic leadership is made up of four interconnecting elements - making it a very simple yet powerful model.

  1. Balanced processing – refers to the degree to which a leader is able to seek out and objectively review information before taking action. Leaders, who make a habit of asking those around them for their input, demonstrate a high degree of balanced processing and are, as a result, perceived to make more effective decisions.

  2. Integrated moral perspective – Authentic leaders are defined by their strong moral code, and every action they take is driven by that code. As a result, Authentic leaders, create an environment where others are able to operate on the basis of their own moral compass.

  3. Transparency – the willingness to openly discuss their thoughts, ideas, and feelings with those around them ensures that Authentic leaders garner high levels of trust, commitment, and loyalty, and engender the same openness in those around them. Consequently, communication, particularly around challenges becomes more open and the subsequent resolution faster and more constructive.

  4. Self-awareness – knowing thy self has long been acknowledged as being key to leadership success. Indeed, research has repeatedly demonstrated that leaders who posses greater self-awareness significantly outperform their peers. A thorough understanding of ourselves and the way we come across to others, enables us to manage the way we communicate and behave more effectively while at the same time giving the ability to be more adaptable to those around us.

Positive Psychological Capital

Apart from engendering trust, loyalty and higher levels of engagement Authentic leadership has also been shown to positively impact performance by enhancing employee's Positive Psychological Capital (PPC). PPC refers to the degree to which an employee feels good about the goals they are pursuing.

A leaders ability to enhance an employee's PPC is a key factor in influencing engagement and retention. Indeed, employees who feel overwhelmed by their job are at a significantly greater risk of becoming disengaged and moving on.

Indeed Shakespeare’s “to thine own self be true” may well have been an early rallying call for future leaders to bring more of themselves to their work and by doing so positively impact not only your own success but that of those around you.

To learn more about Deidre Dattoli Leadership Programs visit

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