In the last 10 years, authenticity has become the gold standard of leadership. This is a sea change from 2003 when I wrote Authentic Leadership. Back then, many people asked what it meant to be authentic. Authentic Leadership was intended as a clarion call to the new generation to learn from negative examples like Enron, WorldCom and Tyco. In it, I defined authentic leaders as genuine, moral and character-based leaders: “People of the highest integrity, committed to building enduring organizations … who have a deep sense of purpose and are true to their core values who have the courage to build their companies to meet the needs of all their stakeholders, and who recognize the importance of their service to society.”
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Is becoming an “authentic leader” just an excuse for practicing a rigid management style? Bill George, who pioneered the idea, says critics don’t understand what constitutes an authentic leader.