Leadership Skills

Authentic leadership theory

What is Authentic leadership?

Authentic leadership theory is a relatively recent leadership theory that emerged in the early 2000s. It proposes that authentic leaders lead with integrity, are self-aware and self-regulating, and are transparent in their communication and actions.

Authentic leaders are thought to be more effective than traditional leaders because they create a positive and inspiring work environment, promote trust and collaboration, and help followers to achieve their full potential.

The theory of authentic leadership includes several key components:

  1. Self-awareness: Authentic leaders have a deep understanding of their values, beliefs, and emotions, and are aware of how these impact their behavior and decision-making.
  2. Self-regulation: Authentic leaders have the ability to manage their emotions and impulses, and to act in accordance with their values and beliefs.
  3. Moral identity: Authentic leaders have a clear sense of right and wrong and lead with integrity, they are transparent, consistent, and fair in their actions.
  4. Transparent communication: Authentic leaders are open and honest in their communication, and they build trust by sharing information and being consistent in their actions.
  5. Relationship building: Authentic leaders build positive and meaningful relationships with followers and other stakeholders, which creates a strong sense of community and fosters collaboration.
  6. Balance of self-interest and others interests: Authentic leaders balance their own self-interests with the interests of their followers and the organization.

Authentic leadership is an ongoing journey of self-awareness, self-regulation, and inner development. Authentic leaders use their inner guidance and integrity to lead with authenticity and to create a positive, ethical, and effective work environment.


Authentic leadership has been found to be positively related to a variety of outcomes such as employee performance, satisfaction, and commitment, and is seen as a key element for a successful leadership.

Self-report questionnaire to measure perceptions of authentic leadership

Here are a few examples of questions that you could include on a self-report questionnaire to measure perceptions of authentic leadership:

  1. To what extent do you believe the leader acts with integrity?
  2. How transparent and honest is the leader’s communication?
  3. How well does the leader understand and manage their own emotions and values?
  4. How much does the leader encourage and support your personal and professional growth?
  5. How much does the leader involve you in decision making and problem solving?
  6. How often does the leader act in alignment with their stated values and beliefs?
  7. How much trust do you have in the leader?
  8. How much does the leader balance their self-interests with the interests of the team and organization?

It is important to note that these are just examples, and the questions and scales should be tailored to the specific context of the research and population. Additionally, it is always important to pilot test questions to ensure they are clear and that responses are reliable and valid before collecting data. Also, it is important to consider measuring multiple leadership behaviors and styles and not just authentic leadership to have a comprehensive view of the leadership style.

It’s also important to note that Authentic leadership is considered as a multidimensional construct, and multiple instruments should be used to measure it. Additionally, as authentic leadership depends on the leader’s inner development and self-awareness, the measurement of authentic leadership could be enhanced by incorporating self-report and multi-source assessments, such as observer ratings, leader diaries, and interviews, this way the validity of the results increases.


Marty Hoffman

Marty Hoffman, MBA, PhD Management Consultant for Fortune 500 and Corporate Strategist 📍 San Francisco, CA More »

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