Authentic Leadership in a Global Environment

dishonest -fingers cross-managers

Today’s employees expect managers to model corporate values. Sadly, some managers do not take this invisible code seriously.  Hypocrisy is the rule of the day. When I was sitting in my Sunday lecture, the instructor brought home what it meant to be hypocritical when discussing Jesus’ interaction with the leaders of his time, The Pharisees. Jesus openly criticized their actions to his followers in Matthew 23:2: “Therefore, whatever they [Pharisees] tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do their works. For they speak, but do nothing. They fasten heavy loads that are hard to carry and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves will not move them with their finger.” Sadly, many workers face some less than genuine managers that fail to inspire them for greater performance.  In this post, we will examine the concept of authentic leadership in today’s society.

Competition is fierce across the globe. Managers are often forced to act genuine with their employees because financial circumstances force them to behave in ways that are in the best interest of shareholders and investors, not their employees.  Yet, organizations need talented and inspired employees who go beyond the basic requirements to excellence.  Yet, employees are reluctant to give this type of performance to self-serving leaders who do not care about them.

Forbes contributing writer Victor Lipman, in his article “The Foundational Importance of Trust in Management,” notes the alarming levels of distrust among workers.  According to a Gallup survey, 70% of workers are disengaged in the organization.  Lipman found several contributing factors to this problem, which were: disingenuous communication, lack of modeling behavior, and financial pressure.

Lipman explains, “As a manager myself, I recognized it was critical for my employees to trust me if I expected them to be fully productive on my watch.”  With trust on the downturn with numerous layoffs and higher unemployment, managers must be sincere and genuine with their workforce if they want a different type of performance.

Organizations must foster authentic leadership in today’s environment. Leadership denotes the ability to influence others.  When the adjective of authentic is modified on the word, something special emerges.  The adjective authentic conveys “something that is real or genuine and not counterfeit.”  In the case of the Pharisees, they were influencers of their followers.  However, the reality of the matter was that their type of leadership was not genuine or sincere. Authentic leadership defines the leader’s ability to have honest relationships with followers through transparent relationships.  In this mode, the leader may leave himself/herself vulnerable to others.

Bill George, author of Authentic Leadership, describes authentic leadership as ‘a leadership style that is consistent with a leader’s personality and core values, and that is honest, ethical and practical.’ Dr. Richard Daft, author of Management, further outlines the following key characteristics of authentic leadership: (a) Authentic leaders pursue their purpose with passion; (b) Authentic leaders practice solid values; (c) Authentic leaders lead with their hearts as well as their heads; (d) Authentic leaders establish connected relationships; and Authentic leaders demonstrate self-discipline. With these traits, authentic leadership would be synonymous with an unselfish leadership approach.

Important Video

In closing, today’s workers want managers who can inspire them for higher performance. However, workers are not looking for managers who are not genuine in their relationships with them. We examined the concept of authentic leadership in today’s society. The analysis demonstrated that workers want leaders who are authentic and sincere with them.

With the many disruptive forces surrounding the workplace, like layoffs, employees want to believe their management is looking out for the worker’s best interest.  If authentic leadership is applied, organizations will be better able to foster this value.  By utilizing authentic leadership in their organizations, managers will be better able to build these types of positive relationships with workers.

How you deal with a hypocritical manager in the workplace and what can be done to created more authentic leaders? Please use your professional and personal experiences on the topic.

© 2016 by Daryl D. Green

References:

Authentic Leadership by Bill George

Management by Richard Daft

“The Foundational importance of Trust in Management” by Victor Lipman

 

 

 

 

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28 thoughts on “Authentic Leadership in a Global Environment

  1. To address your question, the first step that needs to be done with a hypocritical manager is start an open door policy of communication. Creating a dialog with a leader of what needs to be done and how to implement these goals can direct an authentic leader to “walk their talk” with others, to make decisions and do the right thing based on a clear understanding of what the company stands for.
    Havard Business’s Tim Fidler believes, “in so doing, they create a climate of trust that enables open dialogue – critical to fully understanding the truth about any situation. To do this, they master the art of conversation, and share their leadership story or point of view – especially with those who are new to the organization. An authentic leader promotes authentic dialogue.”

    T Fidler, (2013, Dec. 15). Authentic Leadership Retrieved from http://www.harvardbusiness.org/blog/authentic-leadership-0

    • Thank you for your post Sarah. I’m really glad you brought up the open door policy. A friend of mine used to complain about the place he worked at. His managers provided an open door policy every 6 months to talk about whatever you wanted to talk about. He always questioned the purpose of this method. Basically he interpreted this open door policy as the only opportunity to talk to management and it only came around 6 months. I’m sure that’s not what you are saying, but this is just the experience of my buddy. I always thought he had a point. Being a good leader isn’t an exercise from a book you perform every 6 months, it’s a daily grind. It’s how you interact everyday with your employees and management. The best way to eradicate hypocrisy is to lead by example.

  2. The first step that needs to be done with a hypocritical manager is start an open door policy of communication. Creating a dialog with a leader of what needs to be done and how to implement these goals can direct an authentic leader to “walk their talk” with others, to make decisions and do the right thing based on a clear understanding of what the company stands for.
    Havard Business’s Tim Fidler believes, “in so doing, they create a climate of trust that enables open dialogue – critical to fully understanding the truth about any situation. To do this, they master the art of conversation, and share their leadership story or point of view – especially with those who are new to the organization. An authentic leader promotes authentic dialogue.”

    T Fidler, (2013, Dec. 15). Authentic Leadership Retrieved from http://www.harvardbusiness.org/blog/authentic-leadership-0

    • Hello Sarah,

      Thanks for the thoughtful observation! Who owns ‘the open door policy’ and would a hypocritical leader be concerned with your opinion as a subordinate? Perhaps, he/she would superficially listen?

      All,

      Let’s explore the attribute of a hypocritical leader.

      • All,
        I do agree, while this is a first step, this can not be the only step taken to resolve issues of trust and ethics within a company. It does put a lot of emphasis on the leader taking the initiative and keeping the “group on track”. I think bringing up other avenues for solving this problem can only increase the likelihood that a strong ethical standard can be installed within a company.

    • Sarah, I see your point on the open door policy but I wonder how it would change anything. If the manager is a hypocritical manager he will probably listen to you and at the end say than you and now get back to work. Well, maybe that is extreme but I have dealt with CEOs and top leaders in the Air Force and I have seen some; well let’s say “it’s all about them” mentality. I agree a dialog is vital to success in any firm and the benefits outweigh the negatives. Tim Fidler, as you quoted hit it on the head. Creating a climate of trust should be any firm’s goal but understanding it and correcting it and then wanting to correct it are separate issues. Enjoyed reading your post.

      • Paul
        I have to agree that while that would be my first approach, not always does the “open door policy” work. I think when it comes to that point you have to decide for yourself what it is your looking for? A career is suppose too be fulfilling, meaningful, and rewarding. It should be a place where you grow as a person and a professional. Daft talks about job enrichment in one of the later chapters. According to Daft (2014 “research shows that when jobs are designed to be controlled more by employees than by managers, people typically feel a greater sense of involvement, commitment, and motivation, which in turn contributes to higher morale, lower turnover, and stronger organizational performance” (p.547). Hypocritical managers tend to drive away good employees ultimately damaging the company. You really have two choices as a subordinate, you can bring the actions of the manager to upper management, or seek refuge for yourself in an effort to seek better career opportunities. In my personal opinion it’s difficult to change someone with that type of personality, the best option is to seek out more fulfilling opportunities.

        Daft, R. (2015). Management. New York, NY. Cengage Learning.

  3. I would agree today’s employees except managers to model corporate values but I believe more often than not many new managers don’t know what corporate values are. Many probably got to where they are as mangers because of lack of moral and values. I am generalizing here and don’t mean everyone got to their supervisory position by lack of values and ethics. Such as stealing the “at a boys” from their subordinates; seen it done many times. On the other hand, I have also seen many supervisors take the hit when things go wrong.

    Where is the line? When should you be genuine and a motivator as a leader and when to be the supervisor that is hard core that nobody ever wants? Is there a medium that allows authentic leadership that allows for the true “you”? According to Closing the Gap (2008), “You will then be aware that your image may be working against you and decide to persevere . . . or to leave that situation.” (pg. 1). Seems to me; many times in the past a genuine leader may or will have to change who they really are as a leader to conform to the employees will. Does this make them in genuine or simply smart managers?

    Closing the Gap. (2008). Building an Authentic Leadership Image, 21-26.

    • In describing artificial leadership, Painter states, “artificial leaders create artificial followers.” The premise is that employees cannot trust an artificial leader due to the hypocrisy, lack of respect, or other poor behavior. People tend to avoid this manager or when necessary comply out of fear or obligation. We agree that this kind of manager is not desirable to a corporation in the bigger picture. However, within the hierarchy, it takes an authentic leader to hold others in leadership accountable. Calling out the poor behavior of a fellow leader requires courage, since the recipient does not always appreciate it. Ideally, an artificial leader would be recognized and managed appropriately, but in reality, the behavior may go unchecked.
      As time has passed, it seems I have become more jaded in my expectations to work with or for authentic leaders. I am sorry that I have not had better examples in direct reporting roles. However, I have had many opportunities for managerial and leadership training. I have benefitted from the examples of colleagues, friends, and mentors.

      Painter, M. J. (2014). Artificial Versus Authentic Leadership. T+D, 68(4), 104-105.

      • Hello Frances,

        What insightful observations! The concept of the ‘artificial leader’ is interesting. Could they be like artificial flowers which are plastic (and therefore fake)?

        Yet, with this MBA experience, you are grooming yourself to be an authentic leader. We build this new type of leadership…brick by brick!

        Dr. Green

  4. Hi Paul,

    Thanks for leading the charge!

    I want to address one of your thoughts: “Many probably got to where they are as mangers because of lack of moral and values.” Organizations are responsible for organizational culture and managers who lead them. The wrong manager can sink the organization. Jones and George (2009) pointed out the importance of managers in organizations. Thus, organizations should want managers who are authentic.

    Reference:
    Jones, G. and George, J. (2009). Contemporary management. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Irwin, Inc.

  5. For this situation the perfect leader would be known as a Transformational leader. According to Daft (2014) “Transformational leaders clarify the role and task requirements to subordinates, initiate structure, provide appropriate rewards, and try to be considerate and meet the social needs of subordinates” (p.513). In my experience the best approach, or at least the first method should be honestly. I have known some leaders that at times come across hypocritical, but not meaning to be. Sometimes before you jump to any conclusions about a person you should first try to understand their situation or help them to understand yours. A broke communication system in an organization can make situations seems more dyer than they really are. Try initiating the open / honest door policy first before escalating the situation by involving another upper level superior. If this doesn’t resolve the issue, then at that time it may be beneficial to begin searching new avenues and depending on the severity of the situation will determine the method. But leaders in these types of positions were meant to inspire, motivate, and coach. Providing a trusting environment is the first step to a healthy organization.

    Daft, R. (2015). Management. New York, NY. Cengage Learning.

    • Chris,

      I think you are right about transformational leaders in the workplace. In a Forbe’s article dealing with transformational leadership, Drew Hendricks says that “only rare, “transformational leaders” are able to prevent employees from being excessively reliant on their bosses, cultivating instead a staff that feels empowered and self-guided.” (Hendricks 2014) He goes on to address six ways to empower employees through this form of leadership. One that really stuck out to me is to cultivate the executive mentality with employees or teams. In being transparent and authentic, it is imperative to make sure employees keep the big picture in mind for the organization and don’t get caught up in the day-to-day tasks and “small” things. This includes things like team meetings, sharing organizational successes and numbers, and keeping goals in the forefront of employees’ minds.

      Hendricks, Drew. (January 2014). 6 Ways To Empower Your Employees With Transformational Leadership. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/drewhendricks/2014/01/27/6-ways-to-empower-your-employees-with-transformational-leadership/#6549643d3268

  6. Hypocritical managers are common within the workplace but many managers are authentic leaders and demonstrate stewardship. A common misconception is that managers are leaders. While this may be implied, it is not the case. Daft mentions that “a primary distinction between management and leadership is that management promotes stability and order within the existing organizational structure and systems. Leadership, on the other hand, promotes vision and change “ (2014, p. 500). Not every manager is visionary and many are opposed to change.
    I believe that this world could create and nurture individuals to become visionaries and authentic leaders. Stewardship needs to be a focus for our next generation to ensure that people want more than to only be in a position of authority.

    Daft, R. L. (2014). Management (11th ed.). Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.

  7. A hypocritical manager in the workplace is difficult to bare. Is there a difference between a hypocritical manager versus a hypocritical friend or family member? That is one thought, I attempt to remind myself when challenged with this problem. The primary difference is I am compensated for one. A speaker one iterated that we can choose our friends. My preference is to attempt to avoid challenging the manger. Rather than challenging, I attempt to understand the manger’s thought process. By performing this task, I have been able to establish a closer relationship to the manager versus others who challenge and become disengaged from the manager interest in encouraging their development. Very little can be done to create authentic leaders unless the aspiring leader choose to be “real and authentic”. Unfortunately, it a choice and can only be encouraged by providing the goods and information necessary. I believe mangers like employees are “creatures of habit”.

  8. An employee who identifies a hypocritical manager needs to consider all angles of the circumstance. If the manager is misunderstood and more information can resolve the concern, it requires better communication. However, a truly hypocritical manager loses the trust of employees.

    For example, a manager provides direction on a task. The employee carries out the next steps and completes the work. Later, after learning other managers want the work done differently, the manager denies providing the direction, stating the employee took initiative without approval. The employee is alienated and cannot trust direction from the manager going forward. In defense, the employee may double-check for approvals and document interactions. This is inefficient and further erodes the relationship.

    In an article comparing authentic to artificial leadership, Matthew Painter recommends leaders ensure they embody traits of personal humility, respect, and partnership. Managers internalizing these behaviors will develop trusting relationships. Rather than relying on the position’s authority, a manager then develops willing followers of employees and colleagues (Painter).

    Painter, M. J. (2014). Artificial Versus Authentic Leadership. T+D, 68(4), 104-105.

  9. Hypocrisy is an unfortunate part of life, both in personal and professional worlds. I think to deal with a hypocritical person or manager, one must be mentally prepared and understand how that particular manager operates. There are always going to be managers who preach one way and act another. Such is life. The important thing is that the employee dealing with this manager remains authentic and focused on the long-term goal. After all, the hypocritical manager very well may not be around to see or celebrate the long term successes of the company; non-authentic managers are usually only focused on short-term goals such as quarterly numbers. (Kruse 2013) With that being said, to create more authentic managers, the company itself must become more authentic and genuine. Companies should speak the truth to employees, not hide bad news or projections, and compensate employees based on their production and/or contribution to the company. (Smith 2013)

    Kruse, Kevin. May 12, 2013. Forbes. What Is Authentic Leadership? Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com.

    Smith, Jacquelyn. Oct. 4, 2013. Forbes. How To Create An Authentic And Transparent Work Environment. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com.

  10. When we have leaders that are unable to motive us, it is easy to pinpoint what they do wrong. Having a reputation for being an honest and ethical leader is something to be proud of. It seems as if they are hard to find and also live up to. As stated by, the hypocritical leader talks the talk but does not walk the walk and is seen as an unethical leader. Displaying unethical behavior would effect the employee’s commitment, their satisfaction, and ethical conduct. Their decisions, perceived traits, and behaviors are not received as being visibly moral (Travino, Hartman, & Brown, 2000). In my experience, the hypocritical managers are sometimes the most liked, as the employees that want to get away with slacking, etc are able to do so when these types of managers were in charge.

    Reference

    Travino, L., Hartman, L., & Brown , M., (2000). Moral person and moral manager: How executives develop a relationship for ethical leadership. California Management Review, 42(4). 128-142.

    • Fair point, Stephanie. By having a reputation for being honest and ethical is definitely something to be proud of. According to Daft “an authentic leader refers to individuals who know and understand themselves, who espouse and act consistent with higher-order ethical values, and who empower and inspire others with their openness and authenticity (2014, p. 497). This is the opposite of a hypocritical manager and is what people should strive to do. Unfortunately, sometimes this is the harder option as doing the right thing and abiding by higher order ethical values can make you seem difficult to deal with or work with.
      Daft, R. L. (2014). Management (11th ed.). Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.

  11. A hypocritical manager in the workplace is difficult to bare. Is there a difference between a hypocritical manager versus a hypocritical friend or family member? That is one thought, I attempt to remind myself when challenged with this problem. The primary difference is I am compensated for one. A speaker one iterated that we can choose our friends. My preference is to attempt to avoid challenging the manger. Rather than challenging, I attempt to understand the manger’s thought process. By performing this task, I have been able to establish a closer relationship to the manager versus others who challenge and become disengaged from the manager interest in encouraging their development. Very little can be done to create authentic leaders unless the aspiring leader choose to be “real and authentic”. Unfortunately, it a choice and can only be encouraged by providing the goods and information necessary. I believe mangers like employees are “creatures of habit”.

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/creatures-habit/200907/we-are-creatures-habit

    http://www.greatleadershipbydan.com/2011/03/im-your-boss-not-your-friend-10-reasons.html

    • Preston,

      What an insightful post. I agree that many times it is best to not challenge a manager but instead attempt to understand their thought process. I have always been taught to not “burn ones bridges”. However, I do have to disagree with your statement, “very little can be done to create authentic leaders”. I strongly believe that though some leaders are born, they can also be made! This statement has been topic of debate for decades now. Creating an authentic leader would be tough but not impossible. Each individual is motivated by driving forces that influence their daily operations. If a company can link the organization’s values and ethics to the right motivational strategies, one would be more likely to manage in an authentic way because they would feel invested for their own satisfaction.

    • I’m with Kayley, very insightful. Hypocrisy is hypocrisy and who wants to be associated with that. There is a huge difference in managers and leaders. On some level all behavior is a product of motivation. That may sound harsh but if you sit back and think about it, it is true.

  12. Very well said Dr. Green “Competition is very fierce in today’s world”. During several occasions manager is sandwiched between employees and organization. It is the inner values and the approaches they take help managers to take an ethical decision. I would like to share personnel experience where my employer decided to bring new equipment in house but management decided not to tell any employee till the equipment was delivered and put in use. As a manager, I was given instructions not to disclose the details but ethically any sudden change in the environment will cause anxiety and untrustworthy environment. For the long term benefit of the organization, I notified my employees about the new equipment.

    Regards,
    Taran

  13. While there are authentic leaders within the work force they are far and few in-between. For myself, I have only encountered one true authentic leader. Many managers have the “do as I say and not as I do” approach to managing. This mindset can disconnect top managers from front line employees contaminating the workplace. Managers must understand “how effective they are linked to everyone they interact with” (Metcalf, 2014, p. 5). Dealing with hypocritical bosses can leave employees frustrated and discouraged. Employees feeling this way should behave ethical and professional no matter the circumstance. Expressing concern to the company’s human resource representative is always a step in the right direction. Many times there are formal procedures about doing so while maintaining confidentiality and professionalism. Ongoing management training could be one action step in creating an authentic leader within your organization. Company buy-in is a powerful tool when successfully accomplished. If one can instill company values and create a sense of ownership within the management team, then they will be more likely to lead employees authentically.
    Metcalf, M. (2014). 9/24 — Building Authentic Leadership by Innovating How You Lead. Integral Leadership Review, 14(3), 105-112.

  14. Employees must be able to trust their managers. There is a way to be mindful of finances and processes while maintaining an open dialogue with your employees without being dishonest and unethical. Hypocrisy can lead to disgruntled employees, poor morale and low production. A good leader can side step this all together to create an open and exciting working environment. Ronald Riggio, a writer for Psychology Today states than an authentic leader “deals in a straightforward and honest way with followers”. Riggio indicates that there are four useful strategies to being an authentic leader. Self awareness, relational transparency, balanced processing and internalized moral perspective are what makes a genuine leader and take will not only take their employees far but will make great strides in a successful company.

    Riggio, PhD, R.E. (2013). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com
    /blog/cutting-edge-leadership/201401/what-is-authentic-leadership-do-you-have-it.

  15. Unfortunately, hypocrisy is inevitable in most work-places. Can I really blame someone for being there for another reason other than the greater good of the company? I really can’t. Most people strive to be the best they can be, but is it really for the same purpose as the company they work for? Probably not. Most people are driven by money and power. I say good for them. If you can work hard and earn a management position, that person probably deserves it. But make no mistake, there is a fine line between being a manager and a motivator. A manager who is content with just managing is setting themselves up for failure. A motivator is a person who is setting everyone else up for success, which ultimately can lead to company-wide success. If a manager is able to recognize they are the true servants, the employees will undoubtedly work for a cause that is greater than punching the clock. Innovation and creativity will be generated. Business intelligence and communication will be shared. Greatness can be achieved by one person recognizing one simple fact, that they are the real servant.

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