The corporate world is a complex and ambitious place. We have often heard the term ‘cut-throat competition’. Many markets are approaching saturation and profit-making has become the sole obsession of a lot of corporate leaders. There are several examples of businesses manipulating records, hiding facts from the customers, and indulging in many other unethical and illegal practices.

In such a scenario, authentic leadership is the need of the hour. The authentic leadership model is rooted in the belief that it is important to focus on values and the greater good of your people.

Authentic Leadership definition

Many ancient Greek principles and philosophies are still pertinent in the world of business as well as social leadership. Authentic leadership is another such concept which was created by the Greek philosophers in ancient times. Derived from the Greek word, authentikos, authentic means principal or genuine.

Authentic leadership definition referred to a person who could:

  • Take into account all available alternatives and act with prudence

  • Remain emotionally unperturbed and stay in control under all circumstances

  • Give others a fair treatment

  • Display courage by doing the right things

Authentic leadership theory and its examples

The authentic leadership theory is an evolving concept in the modern world. This theory emphasizes validating a leader’s position and making it stronger through a fair relationship between the leader and his subordinates. The modern authentic leadership model is strongly rooted in ethics. An authentic leader is regarded as someone who encourages their subordinates to be frank and open-minded. The authentic leadership style is conducive for personal as well as collective growth.

The authentic leadership model requires the leader to display various interpersonal and moral qualities. Some of these are:

  • Self-awareness:

Authentic leaders carefully evaluate their actions and decisions and are well-versed with their strengths and weaknesses. Such leaders know how to best use their abilities.

  • Emotions:

Authentic leaders listen to their hearts and display courage and empathy.

  • Long-term focus:

The authentic leadership definition refers to leaders who are pragmatic and think long-term. They don’t focus on short-term gains or losses but are ready to take actions that will only pay off later.

  • Integrity:

The authentic leadership theory revolves around the integrity of the leaders. They are respected for how true they are to their words. It is easy for subordinates to trust leaders who are honest and have integrity.

  • Vision:

Authentic leadership is incomplete without the right purpose and vision. Whichever authentic leadership examples we look at, we will always find that they are people who have lofty goals. They work towards achieving their own goals while also helping those around them to fulfill, and even exceed, their potential.

  • Fair listening:

An authentic leader never shies away from listening to his critics. Such leaders welcome constructive criticism and are even willing to change their stance if they find merit in the arguments or criticism.

  • Transparency:

An authentic leader is known for his accessibility and ability to combine free communication with empathy and justice. The private and public personalities of an authentic leader are almost identical as they are not afraid of showing their real side.

  • Consistency:

One of the revealing characteristics of authentic leadership is consistency. An authentic leader doesn’t change with the seasons or trends. Their personality and values remain more or less unchanged in the face of success, failures, accolades or criticism.

Throughout history, we have seen various authentic leadership examples. Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr. are renowned authentic leaders. All of them strived for the progress of their people and made every possible effort to achieve their objectives.

Among the modern-day authentic leadership examples, the name of Warren Buffet stands out. Buffett has been among the wealthiest people on the planet for several decades. Yet, he is known as someone who hasn’t resorted to superficial or immoral means to achieve his wealth. He has a strong reputation for building the Berkshire Hathaway empire through ethical conduct and integrity.

He has given away significant amounts of his personal wealth as a donation to the Gates Foundation and various other charitable causes. Buffet believes in using his wealth to benefit society. Therefore, he is a great example of the authentic leadership concept.


The authentic leadership model hopes to create business leaders who don’t fall into the tempting traps of the contemporary corporate culture.

Authentic leaders are known to follow the moral compass. They believe in adopting ethical and socially responsible business practices. An authentic leader is one who never cuts corners to come across as a hero. He doesn’t attempt to capture the limelight. Instead, he cedes the limelight to the deserving people he works with.

Harappa Education believes in the need to follow the authentic leadership theory in these fraught times when there are distractions and temptations everywhere. Harappa’s Leading Self course is an ideal place to learn about yourself so you can develop the traits and concepts of authentic leadership. This course teaches you to cultivate a mindset that relishes challenges, promotes out-of-the-box thinking and helps you become the best version of yourself. Sign up and become the leader you’ve always wanted to be.

Explore topics such as What is LeadershipTypes of LeadershipTransactional LeadershipLeadership Development & Transactional and Transformational leadership from our Harappa Diaries section and lead on a path of self-development.

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