Authentic Leadership and Lackluster Employee Performance

When an organization is led by an authentic leader, unwanted employee behavior is reduced significantly.

An Authentic Leader

There’s a growing body of literature on the topic of “Authentic Leadership” or AL. AL is commonly defined as a leader’s self-awareness, openness, and what are called “clarity” behaviors. In a nutshell, this type of leader shares information needed to make decisions accepts other people’s inputs, and shares their own personal values, motives, and emotions. As I’ve been studying this data, I’ve been surprised many times that this type of leadership would need to be labeled and categorized separately from other types of leadership styles.

Lackluster Employee Performance

I’ll link the study that I’m referring to here, but to summarize, the authors found a significant correlation between this type of leadership and what I’ll call “lackluster employee performance”. This performance can be a general lack of engagement, calling in sick when they are not sick, showing up sick when they should be taking a sick day, and other undesirable actions. What the authors found is that when an organization is led by an authentic leader, the unwanted employee behavior was reduced significantly. There’s an element of common sense here, but it’s nice to see it laid out in recipe format.

What the research shows as a winning model is when the leadership team is open, honest, willing to be vulnerable, and shares information needed for another team member to get the full picture, employees are naturally more engaged, have ownership over projects, and contribute more fully.

Behaviors of an Authentic Leader

So… what does authentic leadership look like in action? These individuals lead by example. They are honest, fair and have integrity in dealing with their team and others. Authentic leaders model good behavior and positive outcomes and show a deep sense of responsibility for the team and their work outcomes.

This seems like a tall list, but if we look at in terms of marginal gains, we can start with a commitment to being open and honest in our communication. Do our team members have the “big picture”? Are promises fanatically kept? Do we have the humility to apologize to people in our organizations that we have offended? We can start with these basic things and move out from there.

Let’s Talk About This

If you have seen success in implementing these practices, or just want to brainstorm ways to get started, please reach out. This is a passion area for me and I’m always happy to help!

Image by fahribaabdullah14 from Pixabay

Liu, Y., Fuller, B., Hester, K., Bennett, R. J., & Marcia, S. D. (2018). Linking authentic leadership to subordinate behaviors. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 39(2), 218-233.

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