Factors Of Authentic And Transparent Leadership

Factors Of Transparent And Authentic Leadership
Summary: Leadership characteristics that are grounded in truth gain support from stakeholders and promote sustainable practices.

Leading Through Authenticity And Transparency

Leadership styles vary through individuals, organizations, processes, environments, behaviors, beliefs, and cultures. Most leaders develop a list of characteristics, habits, techniques, steps, values, and principles, based on learning and experiences, enabling them to tackle challenges in problem-solving and leading an organization. Ackoff and Greenberg (2008) stated that leadership is a continuous learning process, with driving forces of self-regulation, self-reflection, and self-motivation that allows room for failure, room for play, and promote creativity.

Therefore, many believe that leadership is a science and philosophy, and cannot be taught by education but can only be developed through lived experiences and perspectives gain from those activities (Ackoff & Greenberg, 2008). Furthermore, aspiring leaders can identify characteristics, behaviors, and traits that appeal to professionals when they want to lead through authenticity and transparency. The need for authentic leadership is more significant now more than ever as the direct leadership position is not always related to great leaders (Tineke, 2017).

Authentic Leadership

Authentic leaders can be described as "a) individual who knows who they are and what they believe in b) display transparency between their values, ethical reasoning, and actions, c) focus on developing positive emotional states such as confidence, optimism, hope, and resilience within themselves, and d) widely known and respected for their integrity" (Tineke, 2017, p.6). Therefore, authentic leaders cultivate an empowering work environment that promotes long-term sustainability in positive work culture and gaining stakeholder trust. Tineke (2017) also describes the difficulties in leadership, especially during challenging times.

As each organization faces unique stressors, uncertain and complicated challenges, leaders are faced with making decisions and renewing choices that restore confidence, hope, and optimism for stakeholders (Tineke, 2017). However, authentic leaders aim to foster self-awareness and determine leadership characteristics that have added value to stakeholders. Failure to connect the added value and establish a trust-based relationship can lead to dissolving teams. Thus, the need for authentic leadership is vital to the direct success of organizational outcomes. Stakeholders need to trust that leaders have their best interests in mind when making critical decisions, vice versa, leaders need to trust stakeholders' abilities to perform associated tasks.

Characteristics And Traits Of Authenticity And Transparency

Although there are many versions of authentic leaders, typically they display characteristics and make decisions guided by truth and evidence-based facts. Authentic leaders do not manipulate followers; maximize personal and organizational responsibility for measures, mistakes, and outcomes regarding accountability; having high member and corporate trust (Van & Taris, 2014). In an authentic leadership style, recommendations are more likely to display high reliability, validity, and credibility. Thus, developing a relationship with stakeholders that is grounded in trust, shows commitment to a course of action, often leading to exceeding expected results (Tineke, 2017).

Transparency, as a characteristic in leaders, allows for equal information access to all and aligns employees with company vision and goals. Transparency engages all employees to achieve faster solutions to problems while informing employees on updates, successes, feedback, and minimizing power hierarchies and practicing shared leadership promptly (Barnes et al., 2013). Authentic leaders that are transparent promote a cultural environment in which stakeholders can freely express independent viewpoints leading the team to work toward a common goal faster. Both authenticity and transparency leadership styles are grounded by truths and not by one's own self-benefit.

Creating An Engaged Workforce

Too often leaders experience a time in which they must prove their skills and abilities to shared stakeholders and establish trust. The faster a leader builds trust, the less likely they are to encounter resistance and work more quickly toward a shared goal. Studies have shown that leading through an authentic and transparent leadership style cultivates an engaged workforce. Jiang and Luo (2018) discovered that there was a significant correlation between authentic and transparent leadership and the levels of trust that stakeholders had within their organization. Thus, innovative solutions are derived through authentic and transparent leadership from two-way influences between the leaders and followers for a mutual resolution. As authentic and transparent leaders thrive within their careers, it is essential to remember to lead with purpose and not profit and not confuse culture with collateral (McLeod, 2017).


  • Ackoff, R. & Greenberg, D. (2008). Turning learning right side up. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  • Barnes, B., Humphreys, J., Oyler, J., Pane Haden, S., & Novicevic, M. (2013). Transcending the power of hierarchy to facilitate shared leadership. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 34(8), 741-762. doi:10.1108/LODJ-01-2012-0015
  • Jiang, H., & Luo, Y. (2018). Crafting employee trust: From authenticity, transparency to engagement. Journal of Communication Management, 22(2), 138-160.
  • McLeod, L. (2017). Leading with noble purpose: how to create a tribe of true believers. Wiley.
  • Tineke, W. (2017). Authentic leadership effectiveness: For individuals and teams – a coaching approach.
  • Van, D., & Taris, T. (2014). Authenticity at work: Development and validation of an individual authenticity measure at work. Journal of Happiness Studies, 15(1), 1-18. doi:10.1007/s10902-013-9413-3