(<2 minute read.)
A few days ago in an interview with the BBC, Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, said, “It takes courage and strength to be empathetic, and I’m proudly an empathetic, compassionate leader and politician.”
Jacinda mentions that she has made a deliberate decision to chart a different path to the traditional, adversarial behaviour of politicians, as she can only be true to herself and the type of leadership that she believes in. Jacinda Ardern is courageously demonstrating authentic leadership.
However, in a world that is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, leadership can become more difficult; this has been evidenced in the highly publicised scandals of this century. As a result of these scandals, there has been a call for more positive forms of leadership – such as that of Jacinda Ardern – that will restore confidence in all levels of leadership, and restore confidence, hope and optimism in associates. Additionally, there is demand for greater accountability from organisational leaders and corporate boards. Research indicates that authentic leadership is the root form of all forms of positive leadership and will meet each of these needs.
Authentic leadership is founded on the leaders’ own core values and beliefs, and yet competing demands and environments may hinder the demonstration of authentic leadership behaviour. As such, courage is needed to lead authentically despite potential challenges and tensions. Courage is required to build each of the four elements of authentic leadership – that is, courage is required to:
- Increase self-awareness through reflection and seeking feedback
- Stand firm with one’s values in decision-making and in the face of opposition
- Be open and candid in interactions with others
- Diligently seek and critically examine views that challenge deeply held positions
Jacinda Ardern is courageously demonstrating authentic leadership. She is the kind of leader that inspires, aligns and mobilises; the kind of leader who builds hope for the future. What kind of leader are you?
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