Emotional intelligence: Value and limitations in leadership communication


Presentation on the use of Emotional Intelligence instruments for leadership development.

ORG423 Week 7 Critical Thinking Richard Rock

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The SEC and Madoff: The Need for Authentic Leadership in Regulatory Agencies


No scandal in recent memory highlights government regulatory ineptitude quite as clearly as the Security and Exchange Commission’s failure to uncover Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, a scheme that bilked investors “of an estimated $65 billion” (Shafritz, Russell, & Borick, 2011, p. 362).  Madoff, a wealthy, prominent, industry insider, perpetrated his scheme on unsuspecting investors beginning as early as 1992 and the SEC had received and investigated no less than six complaints between 1992 and 2008, when Madoff finally confessed (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Office of Investigation, 2009).   Why was the SEC so slow to respond to tips and complaints about Madoff?  More importantly, what institutional changes have been implemented at the SEC to assure that the regulatory agency is a more effective regulatory body in the aftermath of Madoff?  This author finds that while the SEC’s internal investigation has revealed some of the systematic causes of their failure, and has worked to address them, the most notable and enduring failure of the SEC was a leadership failure that remains unaddressed, prompting a call for SEC leaders to adopt the principles of authentic leadership to develop an ethical organizational identity.

On Causes of the SEC Failure

            In the wake of the SEC’s failure to catch Madoff, despite the numerous complaints, the SEC conducted an internal investigation to determine why they failed to uncover Madoff’s Ponzi scheme during the course of their many investigations (Wingfield, 2009).  The SEC (2009) report found that a) investigations and examinations went uncompleted, b) the agency failed to collaborate both internally or externally, c) the agency lacked resources,  d) the agency lacked needed expertise, and e) the agency did not have needed process, systems, or controls.  Equally important, the agency found a) no conflict of interest or impropriety in their handling of the case, and b) no attempts by senior SEC officials to influence the investigation (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Office of Investigation, 2009).  In addition, the report is notable for the focus on the specific SEC transactions with Madoff over the years, rather than investigation of systemic problems within the agency that contributed to the failures.  As a result, the SEC (2009) report does not address the role of organizational processes, leadership, or culture, in the failure to uncover Madoff’s scheme, rather it ends suggesting employees involved in the failure should be put on a performance plan.

In light of the SEC’s failure to identify systemic issues, it is worthwhile to review outside criticism of the notable SEC failure.  For example, Shafritz, et al. (2011) suggest the SEC was subject to the phenomenon of ‘agency capture’ whereby a government agency is overly influenced by industry economic interests.   Galbraith (2009) describes the problem endemic to most government regulatory agencies thus:

Regulatory bodies, like the people who comprise them, have a marked lifecycle.  In youth they are vigorous, aggressive, evangelical, and even intolerant.  Later they mellow, and in old age – after a matter of ten to fifteen years—they become, with some exceptions, either an arm of the industry they are regulating, or senile. (p. 166)

In the case of the SEC’s examination of Madoff, the mid-level bureaucrats that examined Madoff appeared overly cautious given Madoff’s stature as a giant in the investment world (Shafritz, et al., 2011).  In particular, because the career path of many in the SEC is in the very firms they are charged with regulating, the agency is susceptible to the ‘revolving door’ phenomenon (Barkow, 2010).  Agency capture, therefore, can be considered an individual choice of self-interest over agency purpose.  What, if anything, has the SEC done in the aftermath of their public failure, to reform the agency, and how will the agency address agency capture?


 

SEC Reforms

            Because of the intense public scrutiny following the SEC’s failure to prevent Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, the agency has published a list of reforms they have undertaken.  While the list of reforms is fairly comprehensive, this author will seek to outline reforms pertinent to the discussion in this paper.  First, the SEC (2012) reorganized their enforcement division and added industry experts to their staff.  Second, the SEC centralized the tracking and distribution of tips and complaints into a computer database (Lynch & Goldstein, 2011; U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, 2012).  Third, the SEC (2012) has put internal process controls and a governance structure in place to assure appropriate follow-up and disposition on examinations.  Although, given the tactical nature of the reforms, this author thinks it likely that additional oversight failures are likely, primarily because organizational culture and leadership issues remain.

The Need for Authentic Leadership

            The SEC’s failure, in some respects can be considered a failure of leadership and culture.  Indeed, if you considered their failure to detect Madoff’s scheme in light of the larger regulatory responsibilities of the agency, the Madoff failure was one notable failure across two decades of similar failures.  For instance, the SEC failed to detect the widespread corporate fraud of the late 1990’s as corporate giants like Enron, WorldCom, Adelphia, and Tyco bilked investors and employees out of millions.  In addition, the SEC failed to adopt a regulatory position on mortgage lending practices that led to the subprime mortgage crisis.  When one considers the regulatory lapses of the SEC (2012) compared with their avowed mission “to protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation” (p. 1), one can likely conclude the agency is in dire need of change, but change to what?

Change is, by its very nature, a leadership problem.  As a regulatory agency that has grown too ‘chummy’ with the industry as a whole, where self-interest appears to override agency purpose, the SEC needs to transform rather than simply reform.  Some argue that the institutional design is flawed, and the agency requires a new design to prevent agency capture (Barkow, 2010).  While the existing reforms and new institutional design are important, equally important is a leadership transformation.  Some would argue that the SEC needs a ‘transformational’ leader to guide them into the future.  However, this author would argue that an agency-wide focus on authentic leadership development is more appropriate, because transformational leadership lacks an ethical or moral dimension.

Authentic leadership theory was born out of the corporate scandals of the late 1990s (George, 2006), however the importance of authenticity was described by Lord Polonius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “This above all: to thine ownself be true,
 And it must follow, as the night the day,
 Thou canst not then be false to any man” (Shakespeare, 1986, p. 676).  “Though, the working definition of an authentic leader is true to ones self, there is an expectation that being true to one’s self is also upheld by the overarching morality of society” (Tonkin, 2010).  It is in this context, that authentic leadership applies to the problems of ethics and morality in an organization.  Moreover, an authentic leader has the opportunity to drive the ethical identity of an organization through a written code of ethics and authentic leadership behaviors (Verbos, Gerard, Forshey, Harding, & Miller, 2007).  How then, does one tell the difference between self-interested leaders and authentic leaders?

A Tale of Two Leaders

            This author will describe his experience with two organizational leaders to illustrate an example of leadership authenticity.  The first leader to discuss is Jon Doe.  Jon’s day-to-day leadership was centered on the notion of crisis, real or manufactured, given both scenarios were equally useful to drive change.  Insofar as Jon sought to transform the company, using crisis as an enabler, characterized Jon as a transformational leader.  Moreover, Jon’s focus on transformation gave the appearance of the consummate executive, working towards the greater good of the company.  However, over time, Jon would often switch positions on key topics regarding organizational change, depending on the power of the position relative to other positions.  In addition, Jon would reprioritize organizational resources depending on the crisis of the moment, effectively abandoning earlier crisis, irrespective of the state of resolution.  This author’s opinion is that Jon was an opportunist that was expert at aligning his self-interest with organizational interest, rather than an authentic leader.

Contrasted with Jon Doe is Jane Doe.  Jane was an organizational leader that was several management levels below Jon.  Jane worked tirelessly to craft the organizational mission, vision, and values with the team.  In addition, Jane aligned word and deed, being the first to live organizational values.  In this respect, Jane was truly an authentic leader.  As a result, Jane’s organization was poised to make sound, ethical, business decisions even in ambiguous situations.  Moreover, Jane’s team had greater organizational commitment and job satisfaction than Jon’s team.  In essence, Jane was able to interweave the organization’s business identity and ethical identity with the organizational purpose.

The differences between these two examples highlight the importance of understanding one’s motivation.  In dramaturgical terms, an actor or actress seeks to understand a character’s ‘through line’, the overriding motivation that drives the character’s behavior and decision-making.   A leader’s understanding of their own ‘through line’ can serve to define organizational values and ethical identity, a situation desperately need at the SEC.

Conclusion

            The SEC learned much from their self-examination of the failures that led to the biggest regulatory miss of the last twenty years.  However, like any self-examination, there are difficult to reach places and blind spots that led the SEC to reform rather than transform.  Most notably, the SEC self-examination did not recognize the contributing and enduring role played by organizational leadership and culture.  It remains to be seen whether SEC reforms will have their intended effects, however, without the development of an authentic leadership capability within the agency, and the resulting ethical organizational identity, it appears likely that the SEC will remain an agency captured by the interests of the financial industry, rather than the interests of the public.

References

Barkow, R. (2010). Insulating agencies: Avoiding capture through institutional design. Texas Law Review, 89(1), 15-79.

Commission, U. S. S. a. E. (2012, July 30, 2012). The Investor’s Advocate: How the SEC Protects Investors, Maintains Market Integrity, and Facilitates Capital Formation  Retrieved August 19, , 2012, from http://www.sec.gov/about/whatwedo.shtml

Galbraith, J. K. (2009). The great crash, 1929. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

George, B. (2006). Truly authentic leadership. [Article]. U.S. News & World Report, 141(16), 52.

Lynch, S. N., & Goldstein, M. (2011, July 27, 2011). Exclusive: SEC builds new tips machine to catch the next Madoff  Retrieved August 19, 2012, from http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/27/us-sec-investigations-idUSTRE76Q2NY20110727

Shafritz, J. M., Russell, E. W., & Borick, C. P. (2011). Introducing public administration (7th ed.). Boston: Longman.

Shakespeare, W. (1986). William Shakespeare, the complete works (Original-spelling ed.). Oxford Oxfordshire ; New York: Clarendon Press ; Oxford University Press.

Tonkin, T. (2010). Authentic leadership: A literature review. Research Paper. School of Global Leadership and Entrepreneurship. Regent University. Virginia Beach.

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. (2012, April 4, 2012). The Securities and Exchange Commission Post-Madoff Reforms  Retrieved August 19,, 2012, from http://www.sec.gov/spotlight/secpostmadoffreforms.htm

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Office of Investigation. (2009). Investigation of Failure of the SEC to Uncover Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme – Public Version – U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Office of Investigation, Retrieved from http://www.sec.gov/news/studies/2009/oig-509.pdf.

Verbos, A. K., Gerard, J. A., Forshey, P. R., Harding, C. S., & Miller, J. S. (2007). The positive ethical organization: Enacting a living code of ethics and ethical organizational identity. Journal of Business Ethics, 76(1), 17-33.

Wingfield, B. (2009, September 2, 2009). New Madoff Report Blasts SEC. The Regulators  Retrieved August 19, 2012, 2012, from http://www.forbes.com/2009/09/02/bernard-madoff-sec-business-washington-madoff.html


Constructive Conflict: A Leadership Moment


Conflict is inherent in sports, as individuals and teams compete against one another to win.  In football, hockey, and boxing, people intentionally hit each other to gain an advantage.  Even in basketball, where there are distinct rules to avoid contact, there is significant contact “in the paint”, and players often injure each other as they vie for advantage.  Despite conflict’s central role in sports, “on the court” conflicts are not usually considered the type of conflict that is resolved using communication-based conflict management techniques.  However, there is often considerable conflict “off the court”, at times the result of a complex array of needs and expectations amongst various actors including parents, athletes, coaches, and fans.  Poole (2012), describes one such conflict, between a player and coach, a result of differing expectations of playing time between the actors.  The case highlights how relationship uncertainty, attribution without communication, and relationship economics work to keep the conflict in the initiation phase, whereas relationship-centered communication is a leadership opportunity to collaboratively resolve the conflict and improve the team.

Background

The case study revolves around a conflict between the coach and one of the players, where the player seeks a greater role during games, while the coach is confident in their decision-making and appears unwilling to meet the player’s expectations of more playing time (Poole, 2012).  Poole (2012) describes the conflict from the point of view of the player:

You go to practice and work as hard as anyone else, and know all the plays. You previously went to your coach and asked why you weren’t playing in the games. You felt that he had favorite players, and since they didn’t include you, you weren’t receiving the opportunities that you should as a member of the team. The coach replied that since he picked the team, he owned it, and he would decide who played. He suggested that you quit if you didn’t like it. (p. 1)

The case describes a conflict that appears to be stuck in the initiation phase, without an obvious path forward to resolution, given the apparent finality of the discussion.  Failure to bring the conflict to resolution has inherent risks for the player, the team, and the coach, insofar as the conflict has the potential to lead to a confrontation avoidance cycle.  In particular, the relationship may suffer from the chilling effect, where “one person in the relationship withholds grievances from the other, usually due to fear of the other person’s reaction” (Abigail & Cahn, 2011, p. 29).

According to Abigail and Cahn (2011), the chilling effect can lead to decreased level of communication, decreased commitment, and eventual death of the relationship.  The possibility that the relationship between player and coach could suffer from the chilling effect is apparent, given the coach appears willing to end the relationship, rather than work to resolve the conflict.  Of course, the player has an equal role in the conflict, insofar as the player does not appear to consider the needs of the coach or the team.  To fully understand the perspectives of both actors, this author will first analyze the situation from a theoretical perspective, before arriving at a recommendation.

Theoretical Perspective

To analyze the theoretical perspectives that may be at work in the conflict, this author will adopt Goffman’s (1956) dramaturgical perspective, looking at the conflict from the perspective of the player and coach roles.  The player is concerned that they are not receiving an appropriate amount of playing time based on their sense of fairness and as recognition of their effort.  In addition, the player appears to attribute the lack of playing time to favoritism on the part of the coach, an inference that may or not be reflective of the situation.  “Attribution theory states that people act as they do in conflict situations because of the inferences they make about others based on their behavior” (Abigail & Cahn, 2011, p. 216).  Moreover, people may respond aggressively when one person seeks to constrain another’s alternatives, when the act appears to intentionally do harm, and when the act appears illegitimate (Abigail & Cahn, 2011).  The coach’s role is a difficult one, as the coach must balance the goal of winning, with the needs of every player and a variety of additional actors, including parents, administrators, and fans.  Balancing these perspectives, the coach may have legitimate reasons for not playing the player, however, because the player attributes the coach’s behavior to favoritism, the player does not attempt to understand the coach’s decision-making.  In turn, the coach may believe the player is seeking to illegitimately constrain the coach’s choices, perhaps influencing the coach’s response.  While attribution theory provides insight into the behavior of both the player and coaching, social exchange theory may offer additional insight.

“Social exchange theory states that people evaluate their personal relationships in terms of their value, which is created by the costs and rewards associated with the relationship” (Abigail & Cahn, 2011, p. 220).  In the player coach relationship depicted in the case study (Poole, 2012), differing perspectives on value may be the source of conflict, as the player clearly values personal playing time, while the coach’s value orientation is opaque.  However, by adopting the role of coach, this author may infer the coach’s value orientation to provide further insight.  As such, this author believes the coach likely values winning, while also valuing team play, player development, and perhaps even their job.  The case highlights how differing value orientations can form the basis for conflict.  The coach’s willingness to end the relationship suggests that the rewards of the relationship fall below the comparison level standard perceived by the coach, likely a result of the coach’s perception of the player’s teammates, where the alternative of ending the relationship with the player is preferable when compared with the costs of meeting the player’s expectation.  Of course, the coach’s willingness to end the relationship likely creates considerable uncertainty for the player.

Uncertainty can occur both in a relationship, and within a conflict relationship, and is often the result of insufficient information (Abigail & Cahn, 2011).  The player clearly does not understand the coach’s motivation for selecting the player line-up, nor does the player know specifically what they need to do in order to realize the opportunity for additional playing time.  The uncertainty in the situation and the ambiguous motives of each actor in the case, combine to create a potential chilling effect, where the player may be unwilling to address the conflict in a productive way, given the potential implications.  The coach’s willingness to let the player leave the team introduces further uncertainty into the player’s perception of the likelihood of future play.  Moreover, the coach’s attitude may undermine the player’s level of esteem.  Maslow (1943) identifies esteem as a fundamental human need associated with confidence, achievement, and respect.  Because the coach is likely concerned with player development, the coach’s communication with the player, whether intended or not, may be incongruent with the coach’s value orientation and role as a leader.  Furthermore, given the role of coach is a leadership role, the coach has a responsibility to understand the nature of the conflict and use the conflict constructively to provide value in the leader-member exchange (LMX).

Leader-member exchange theory is a leadership theory that focuses on the dyadic social exchange process in the relationship between the leader and member (Graen & Uhl-Bein, 1995).  According to Graen and Uhl-Bein (1995), a LMX is the basis of social exchange between leaders and members, and leadership behavior can lead to high quality LMX relationships.  Moreover, high quality LMX can improve organizational commitment and improve organizational citizenship behavior (Cropanzano & Mitchell, 2005).  The case study highlights a missed opportunity on behalf of the coach to use the conflict constructively to benefit both the player and the team.

Recommendation

Had either, the coach or the player, taken a constructive view of the conflict, the situation could be very different.  However, as a leader, the coach has an overriding responsibility to use conflict constructively as an opportunity to help players reach their goals, while improving team outcomes.  Irrespective of responsibility, both actors in the conflict drama have the opportunity to use the conflict as an opportunity to collaborate to resolve the conflict while improving both personal and relationship growth (Abigail & Cahn, 2011).  Collaboration is a relationship-centered approach to conflict that seeks to resolve conflict and create win-win scenarios (Abigail & Cahn, 2011).  Had the player, or the coach, sought to understand each other’s needs, empathized with each other, or emphasized their common purpose, the actors may have found opportunities to collaborate.

For example, the coach, being concerned with player development, could have used the opportunity to communicate the specific improvements required of the player to increase their playing time.  Conversely, the player could have asked what specifically they needed to improve to increase playing time, rather than attribute the lack of playing time to favoritism.  However, this author suggests the responsibility largely rests with the coach.  The conflict was a coaching opportunity that could have motivated the player to improve, and provided support via future leader-member exchanges oriented toward the players development.  While it is unclear whether the player would meet the coach’s expectations of future performance, Bandura (1997) notes that expectations are the best predictor of success.

Conclusion

While conflict can be a source of angst and uncertainty, conflict is equally an opportunity to improve personal and relationship outcomes when used constructively.  Moreover, when conflict occurs in the leader-member exchange, constructive conflict is a leadership moment, an opportunity for a leader to teach, influence, and raise expectations of performance.  To take advantage of the leadership moment, the leader must adopt a relationship-centered approach to understand the members needs, and actively collaborate to help the member achieve their goals.  While both actors share the responsibility to initiate collaboration, the leader has a greater responsibility.  After all, leaders choose to lead.

 

 


HELP: I need input to select Masters program


Hello!  As I near completion of my Bachelors in Applied Social Science at Colorado State, I am considering a number of Master’s programs.  In short, I thought I would reach out to my friends and associates to get your input, based on your knowledge of me, my skills, my gaps, and your view of the future.

I chose to pursue social science, because so many of society’s challenges and opportunities in both the public and private sector usually have solutions, but lack an understanding of how to organize the social environment for change; the environment, globalization, inequality, healthcare, and economic growth are all examples.  At the same time, we are in a period of great change with the advent of a global communication network, global transportation network, and the Internet, as we construct the social meaning of our future with these incredible capabilities.  As I consider Master’s programs, I am looking at it through the lens of social change in digital era, and the potential impact we can have on our major challenges, specifically focusing on the role of businesses, government, or NGOs in engineering the social element of solutions.

Therefore, I have thought about a Master’s program in the following ways:

  • Continue focus on social science, going deeper on communication as the key skill to affect change that can be applied to any situation.  These programs typically include focus on communication & media or communication & leadership.  The programs at Gonzaga, John Hopkins University, Seton Hall, University of North Carolina, and University of Southern California fall into this category.
  • Starting applying what I have learned about social science towards one of the most pressing opportunities and challenges of our time, environmental sustainability.  I think that both the public and private sector will need to address sustainability in a meaningful way in the future and will need leaders with a social science background to help affect change.  The programs at Colorado University, Duke, and University of Denver fall into this category.

The attached PDF, named masters thoughts, includes more detail for each program, including curriculum, costs, and duration.  I would very much like to hear your perspective.  Please provide your feedback using the blog comments.  Thanks!

masters thoughts


An Authentic Leadership Journey



 Abstract

Authentic leadership is a relatively new leadership theory, needed because of pervasive ethical and moral leadership problems of the 21st century.  The author conducts a personal exploration of authentic leadership in order to strengthen authentic leadership behaviors and shape new leadership opportunities.  This paper provides an overview of authentic leadership theoretical perspectives, describes the use of the Authentic Leadership Questionnaire to assess follower perception of the author’s authentic leadership, and shares the results of the assessment.  Furthermore, the paper outlines specific recommendations to increase the author’s self-awareness, building phronesis through a series of reflective and reflexive processes focused on developing the author’s leadership narrative and a perspective on the author’s aspirational self.

An Authentic Leadership Journey

            A leadership self-assessment is about opportunity, the opportunity to be a better leader, to improve the lives of followers, and to make a difference.  There are opportunities everywhere; businesses need to find new ways to create value, governments need to find new solutions to old problems, schools need to inspire a new generation of learners, and communities need new ways to improve the quality of life for their members.  Leaders are needed to pursue the opportunities of the 21st century, because problems are increasingly global, interrelated, and complex.  Consider the situation in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where the Whirlpool refrigerator factory is closing, and 1000 workers will be laid off because of increased global competition and the opening of an offshore plant in Mexico (Bartels, 2011).  Could the competitive situation at Whirlpool have been improved with the right leadership?  How could state and local government have collaborated with Whirlpool to find new ways to add value?  Who in the local community will emerge to stave off rampant unemployment and economic crisis?  How will local schools, colleges, and universities rally to retool to local labor pool?

George (2006) considers the question, “What, then, is the 21st-century leader all about? It is being authentic, uniquely yourself, the genuine article” (p. 1).  Authentic leadership is a relatively new leadership theory, arising from the ethical and moral leadership crisis’ so common in new century (F. Walumbwa, Avolio, Gardner, Wernsing, & Peterson, 2008); such as the Enron collapse, the global financial crisis, fictional intelligence used as pretext for war, the disappearing middle class, failure to reduce climate change, and countless other examples of leadership absent moral courage.  Many in both academic and applied management writing see authenticity as the leadership prescription to help emerging leaders restore hope, optimism, and purpose, thereby increasing both self-efficacy and leader effectiveness (Avolio & Gardner, 2005; George, 2007; Kouzes & Posner, 2007; Sparrowe, 2005).   Therefore, this author embarked on an authentic leadership journey to understand how improvements in leadership authenticity might shape new opportunities and strengthen personal leadership.

To describe the journey, this essay will include an overview of authentic leadership, describe the benefits of authentic leadership, describe the use of the Authentic Leadership Questionnaire as an instrument to assess authentic leadership, provide the results of the assessment, develop an analysis of the results, and develop recommendations to strengthen authentic leadership.  In addition, this essay will describe how the authentic leadership assessment helped the author identify opportunities to improve self-awareness, develop a standard for future leadership, and potentially improve follower trust, organizational citizenship behavior, and team productivity as a result.

Overview

Authentic leadership is “the extent to which a leader is aware of and exhibits pattern of openness and clarity in his/her behavior toward others by sharing the information needed to make decisions, accepting others’ inputs, and disclosing his/her personal values, motives, and sentiments in a manner that enables followers to more accurately assess the competence and morality of the leader’s actions” (F. O. Walumbwa, Wang, Wang, Schaubroeck, & Avolio, 2010, p. 901)  The origins of modern authentic leadership theory appear to stem from critical discourse of transformation leadership, as Bass and Steidlmeier (1999) sought to counter critical arguments suggesting transformational leadership was unethical.  Critics argued that transformational leadership allowed for the manipulation of followers and argued the theory lack’s treatment of moral and ethical issues might develop unscrupulous leaders that use the theory for nefarious purposes (Avolio, 2010; Bass & Steidlmeier, 1999).  These concerns prompted Bass and Steidlmeier (1999) to differentiate between the authentic transformational leader and the pseudo-transformational leader.  In 2001, Avolio (2010) began research to assure that leadership development did not simply develop pseudo-transformational leaders, rather focusing on “what ‘genuinely’ or ‘authentically’ developed leaders” (p. 1).  During a literature review, Tonkin (2010) found a variety of early definitions of authentic leadership, also noting that Avolio appeared to be the thought leader of authentic leadership theory.  Later, Avolio and Gardner (2005) developed a theoretical perspective of authentic leadership as distinct from other modern leadership theories, such as transformational leadership, charismatic leadership, and servant leadership, noting that transformational leaders require authenticity, while authentic leaders are not necessarily transformational.

Walumbwa, Avolio, Gardner, Wernsing, and Peterson (2008) published the results of a study designed to develop and test the Authentic Leadership Questionnaire (ALQ), a theory-based measurement instrument for authentic leadership.  In their study, Walumbwa, et al. (2008), found that the ALQ was both reliable and valid, authentic leadership could be discriminated from other leadership theories, and a positive relationship between authentic leadership and job performance.  Their definition was based on social psychological theory, recognized the importance of an internalized moral perspective, and focused on the development of authenticity in leaders and followers (F. Walumbwa, et al., 2008).  According to Walumbwa, et al., (2008), authentic leadership is defined as:

A pattern of leader behavior that draws upon and promotes both positive psychological capacities and a positive ethical climate, to foster greater self-awareness, an internalized moral perspective, balanced processing of information, and relational transparency on the part of leaders working with followers, fostering positive self-development.  (p. 94)

From the definition, the ALQ is based on the four dimensions outlined and defined below (Avolio, Gardner, & Walumbwa, 2007):

  • Self-Awareness: To what degree is the leader aware of his or her strengths, limitations, how others see him or her and how the leader impacts others?
  • Transparency: To what degree does the leader reinforce a level of openness with others that provides them with an opportunity to be forthcoming with their ideas, challenges and opinions?
  • Ethical/Moral: To what degree does the leader set a high standard for moral and ethical conduct?
  • Balanced Processing: To what degree does the leader solicit sufficient opinions and viewpoints prior to making important decisions? (p. 1)

Benefits

Since the release of the ALQ, numerous studies were that describe the positive benefits of authentic leadership in a variety of settings.  In their original study, Walumbwa, et al. (2008) found that authentic leadership was both significantly and positively related to organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and organizational citizenship behavior (OCB).  In a more recent study, Walumbwa, et al., (2010) demonstrated “that authentic leadership was significantly related to rated OCB and employee work engagement. Further, we found these relationships were explained by the degree to which employees identified with their supervisors and the extent to which employees’ felt psychologically empowered” (p. 910).

In addition, Thönissen (2009) noted a significant positive effect on both follower job satisfaction and performance, while Tonkin (2011a) found that self-awareness, transparency, and balanced processing had a positive effect on both OCB and job satisfaction, while morals and ethics and no significant effect on either.  The most recent study published by Hannah, Walumbwa, and Fry (2011) assessed the impact of authentic leadership on team productivity, finding that when teams had self-aware team members that behaved with transparency, ethics, and balance, team productivity was enhanced.  In addition, the research was the first authentic leadership study to “provide initial empirical evidence of the transference of team leader authenticity to team members’ authenticity” (Hannah, et al., 2011, p. 792), an exciting proposition suggestive of the contagious effect authentic leadership may have on teams.

Authentic leadership may have numerous positive benefits for leaders that improve follower perception of their self-awareness, morals/ethics, transparency, and balanced processing.  Potential benefits include improved follower job satisfaction, follower organizational commitment, and follower OCB.  In addition, authentic leadership behaviors may improve employee work engagement and team productivity.  Furthermore, the benefits may be contagious, as followers’ model norms of authentic leadership behavior.  Consequently, authentic leadership offers practical benefits to those seeking to assess and improve authentic leadership behaviors.

Assessment

            The authentic leadership assessment was conducted using the ALQ, a four-dimension, sixteen-question, instrument found to be both reliable and valid (Avolio, et al., 2007; Tonkin, 2011b; F. Walumbwa, et al., 2008).  The ALQ uses a five-point Likert scale, rather than the ten-point scale suggested in the assignment.  Eighteen respondents received the survey request an e-survey tool.  The target respondents included a supervisor, peers, subordinates, and personal associates.  To limit potential bias, in this case social desirability (Crowne & Marlowe, 1960), the survey did not require demographic data describing respondent relationships to the author.  Therefore, the data does not include relationship information and comparisons are limited to self versus other.  Of the 18 (n=18) survey requests, there were 12 (n=12) total respondents.

Result

Table 1 below, provides the summary results:

Table 1

ALQ Survey Summary Results 

Dimension

Self

Others

Difference

Transparency

3.60

4.04

0.44

Morals/Ethics

4.00

4.36

0.36

Balanced Processing

3.67

3.90

0.24

Self-Awareness

3.25

3.56

0.31

Note: Others is the mean of the 12 respondents

The respondents, on average, tended to rate the author higher in each dimension than did the author, likely owing to the author’s knowledge of how the survey was used.  The author received highest ratings for the dimension of morals/ethics, while averaging above four for the dimension of transparency.  The author averaged the lowest ratings for the dimensions of balanced processing and self-awareness.  It is worth noting, that largest difference occurred for the dimension of transparency, with respondents rating the author far higher than did the author.

Practical Implications

            The low relative ratings for the dimension of balanced processing and self-awareness are suggestive of significant room for improvement.  According to Kliuchnikov (2011), “balanced processing implies that authentic leaders are capable of considering multiple sides of the issue at hand and analyzing all relevant information before making a decision” (p. 72).  In order to increase the perception of balanced processing in decision-making, the author needs to find ways to assure opposing viewpoints and relevant data are visibly considered.

Of more concern is the low relative rating for self-awareness, a dimension that occupies a central role in authentic leadership theory.  Ladkin and Taylor (2010) point out that “that authentic leadership is the expression of the ‘true self’, that the leader must be relatively aware of the nature of that self in order to express it authentically” (p. 5).  While Shamir and Eilam (2005) describe authentic leaders as those that possess self-knowledge that provides clarity and guides values and moral conviction.  One possible interpretation of the low relative rating for self-awareness is that others perceive a difference between the author’s view of their “true self”, versus their “true self”, giving rise to the notion that others may perceive the author as honestly delusional, a notion supported by Shamir and Eilam (2005) .  Another possible interpretation is that the author has low self-monitoring ability; the ability to monitor and adjust behavior based on the situation (Kinicki & Kreitner, 2008).  A final interpretation is that the author may not seek feedback from others often enough.  In order to improve self-awareness and the perception of self-awareness, the author needs to find ways to improve their understanding of and connection with their “true self”.

Recommendation

            Self-awareness or knowledge of one’s true self is a challenging topic given the plethora of theoretical perspectives that inform the topic (Duval & Silvia, 2002; Klenke, 2007; Ladkin & Taylor, 2010; Ricœur, 1992; Sparrowe, 2005; Toor & Ofori, 2010).  Duval, Silvia, and Lalwani (2001) describe a process of self-awareness as the comparison of object self against a standard of correctness when attention focuses on the self, finding that a person can address differences by either changing behavior to align to the standard, removal of attention away from the object self, or changing the standard.  Therefore, one potential intervention strategy is to identify the author’s standard of correctness as it pertains to leadership and determine specific differences in behavior.  However, the intervention may prove difficult given the lack of tools for self-reflection.

Sparrowe (2005) observes that many authentic leadership perspectives focus on the inward nature of self, suggesting that leaders look inward to identify their true self.  He goes on to frame an alternative perspective of self using Ricœur’s (1992) hermeneutic philosophical view; that of self as a narrative identity that provides meaning across the events of life.  In Ricœur’s view, others are related to the narrative self in two distinct ways, both as a source of imaginative possibility for the future narrative, and as persons with narratives that are intertwined with our own (Sparrowe, 2005). Therefore, self-awareness requires an understanding of the personal narrative, how the narrative self influences others, and others influence the narrative self.

Sparrowe (2005) recommends a series of interventions for authentic leaders that seek greater self-awareness.  Interventions include developing autobiographical works like journals or obituaries, identifying alternative positive variations of future narratives from other leaders through consumption of biographies, and using tools to engage others in helping identify a future narrative; such as the Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship’s Reflective Best Self Exercise (Sparrowe, 2005).  Moreover, Shamir and Eilam (2005) make a similar recommendation for increasing self-awareness, suggesting that interventions include both reflected best self exercises and reflexive process that identify the positive jolts experienced by leaders in order to construct a leader’s life-story, or in Ricœur’s parlance, the leader’s narrative self.  Roche (2010) also supports the argument for the efficacy of reflective experience to gain practical wisdom based on the findings of from a recent quasi-experimental study.  Likewise, Kouzes and Posner (2007) describe the creation of a personal tribute as a method to clarify values, in similar fashion to the obituary described by Sparrowe (2005).

Thus, there appears to be significant congruence between authentic leadership scholars that increased self-awareness requires experiential processes to develop a leader’s personal leadership story.  The recommended approach to developing this author’s leadership story will include active journaling, the development of a personal tribute, and investment in the Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship’s Reflective Best Self Exercise.  During the process of developing the leadership narrative, this author will seek to identify an aspirational standard for leadership correctness with which to target as a future, imaginative leadership possibility.

Conclusion

            The authentic leadership assessment helped this author identify specific recommendations to improve follower perception of balanced processing and self-awareness.  In fact, the assessment process was the beginning of the author’s authentic leadership journey.  The global, complex, interrelated problems of the 21st century require authentic leaders that seek ethical, balanced, and fair solutions to achieve the greatest possible good.  It is likely that the process of constructing the author’s leadership narrative is the first step towards identifying the type of leadership challenge that aligns with the author’s true self.  The authentic leadership assessment helped the author identify opportunities to improve self-awareness, but also is helping to shape a best possible future self.

References

Avolio, B. J. (2010). Bringing authentic leadership into focus. MLQ: Leadership Assessment & Development Services, 12(2), 1-2.

Avolio, B. J., & Gardner, W. L. (2005). Authentic leadership development: Getting to the root of positive forms of leadership. The Leadership Quarterly, 16(3), 315-388.

Avolio, B. J., Gardner, W. L., & Walumbwa, F. O. (2007). Authentic Leadership Questionnaire  Retrieved October 17, 2011, from http://www.mindgarden.com

Bartels, C. (2011, October 27, 2011). Fort Smith mayor says Whirlpool closing plant. Businessweek, 1.

Bass, B. M., & Steidlmeier, P. (1999). Ethics, character and authentic transformation leadership. Leadership Quarterly, 10(2), 181-217.

Crowne, D. P., & Marlowe, D. (1960). A new scale of social desirability independent of psychopathology. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 24(4), 349-354.

Duval, T. S., & Silvia, P. J. (2002). Self-awareness, probability of improvement, and the self-serving bias. Journal fo Personality and Social Psychology, 82(1), 49-61. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.82.1.49

Duval, T. S., Silvia, P. J., & Lalwani, N. (2001). Self-awareness & causal attribution : a dual systems theory. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

George, B. (2006). Truly authentic leadership. [Article]. U.S. News & World Report, 141(16), 52.

George, B. (2007). Authentic leaders. [Article]. Leadership Excellence, 24(9), 16-17.

Hannah, S. T., Walumbwa, F. O., & Fry, L. W. (2011). Leadership in action teams: Team leader and members’ authenticity, authenticity strength, and team outcomes. [Article]. Personnel Psychology, 64(3), 771-802. doi: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.2011.01225.x

Kinicki, A., & Kreitner, R. (2008). Organizational behavior : key concepts, skills & best practices (3rd ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill Irwin.

Klenke, K. (2007). Authentic leadership: A self, leader, and spiritual identity perspective. International Journal of Leadership Studies, 3(1), 68-97.

Kliuchnikov, A. (2011). Leader’s authenticity influence on followers’ organizational commitment. Emerging Leadership Journeys, 4(1), 70-90.

Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2007). The leadership challenge (4th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Ladkin, D., & Taylor, S. S. (2010). Enacting the ‘true self’: Towards a theory of embodied authentic leadership. The Leadership Quarterly, 21(1), 64-74.

Ricœur, P. (1992). Oneself as another. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Roche, M. (2010). Learning authentic leadership in New Zealand: A learner-centred methodology and evaluation. American Journal of Business Education, 3(3), 71-80.

Shamir, B., & Eilam, G. (2005). “What’s your story?” A life-stories approach to authentic leadership development. The Leadership Quarterly, 16, 395-417. doi: 10.1016/j.leaqua.2005.03.005

Sparrowe, R. T. (2005). Authentic leadership and the narrative self. The Leadership Quarterly, 16(1), 419-439. doi: 10.1016/j.leaqua.2005.03.004

Thönissen, M. (2009). The effect of authentic leadership on job performance and job satisfaction and the mediating role of psychological capital. International Business Master Thesis, Maastricht University, Maastricht.

Tonkin, T. (2010). Authentic leadership: A literature review. Research Paper. School of Global Leadership and Entrepreneurship. Regent University. Virginia Beach.

Tonkin, T. (2011a). Authentic versus transformational leadership: Assessing their effectiveness on organizational citizenship behavior of followers. School of Global Leadership and Entrepreneurship. Regent University. Virginia Beach, VA.

Tonkin, T. (2011b). The reliability and validity of the authentic leadership questionnaire (ALQ). School of Global Leadership and Entrepreneurship. Regent University. Virginia Beach, VA.

Toor, S.-u.-R., & Ofori, G. (2010). Positive psychological capital as a source of sustainable competitive advantage for organizations. [Article]. Journal of Construction Engineering & Management, 136(3), 341-352. doi: 10.1061/(asce)co.1943-7862.0000135

Walumbwa, F., Avolio, B. J., Gardner, W., Wernsing, T., & Peterson, S. (2008). Authentic leadership: Development and validation of a theory-based measure. Journal of Management, 34(1), 89-126. doi: 10.1177/0149206307308913

Walumbwa, F. O., Wang, P., Wang, H., Schaubroeck, J., & Avolio, B. J. (2010). Psychological processes linking authentic leadership to follower behaviors. The Leadership Quarterly, 21, 901-914.


Inspired to Lead


Image Source: Dean McCoy

Can you imagine and see a time, when you drive down the road on a clear beautiful afternoon with your family?  As you travel further, the weather begins to change and the sky darkens.  You can feel and see and hear the difference.  Your visibility worsens and deep, penetrating fog sets in.  You slow down, uncertain about what is ahead.  Could there be a car in front of you, or a cliff?  Would you have time to react?  It’s a scary feeling, right?  A team without a clear vision for where they are going reacts in much the same way.  They may slow down, feel anxious, or seek ways to get out of the situation.  This is the reason that it is critical to inspire a shared vision for those you would lead.  And yet, as critical as inspiring a shared vision is to a team’s performance, it is also the leadership practice that most leaders struggle with (Kouzes & Posner, 2006).  We often study prolific leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. or Steve Jobs and yet very little time is spent on how their vision came into existence. I submit that inspiring a shared vision is a craft that any craftsman can create with the right perspective.

Challenge the Status Quo

            A colleague of mine, often reminds me that different isn’t always better, but better is always different.  “You find vision by reaching for any available reason to change, grow, and improve(Clark, 1997).” Kouzes and Posner noted in their research that challenging the process is one of the five practices of exemplary leaders (Kouzes & Posner, 2007).  It takes courage to challenge the status quo, because there are frequently vested interests that seek to maintain a business as usual approach.

Be Optimistic

            “Leaders have to enlist others in a common vision (Kouzes & Posner, 2007).”  For others to want to share in the vision and want to be inspired, the vision must be both exciting and possible.

Aspire to the Greatest Good

            There is always a greater good.  The greater good is that which serves the larger group and is inherently connected to a vision.  A leader sits between his team and the greater good and has the role of aligning the aspirations of each individual to the greater good.  To do that, a leader must navigate between the many levels of good and the aspirations of the team members.  The greater the good, the more inspiring the vision is.  For example, contrast the success of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition with that of the original show, Extreme Makeover.  The original show focused on helping an individual with their physical appearance, whereas the Home Edition focuses on helping an entire family reestablish their lives.  Which is still on the air?

The Language of Vision

            In one sense, a vision can be described as an experience.  How can you help people have a shared experience?  The language of a vision will differ based on the representation systems of the team members.  Some may be more apt to see a visual representation, while others will want to hear what the future will be like for them personally, and yet other may want to study the rationale behind the vision.  You must understand your team and their language of value to help them experience the vision together.

Using the Timeline

Each of us has a timeline that extends far back to our first experiences and as far into the future as we wish to look.  “When we gaze first into our past, we elongate our future (Kouzes & Posner, 2007).”  By helping the team to first look to the past, we gain the value of perspective and their experiences.

Goal Setting is the Roadmap

As we have our teams envision the future timeline and see the achievement of the vision, key questions can set be used to create specific goals that measure both progress and results.  As we move down the timeline, how will we know that progress is being made? What will it feel like and be like?  What will be different?  These clarifying questions can help solidify the definition of success and form those definitions into specific goals.  We can then lay the goals across the timeline to form a roadmap.

Be Contagious

“Getting people to accomplish something is much easier if they have the inspiration to do so (Clark, 1997).” Your passion is contagious.  Your passion will tell your team that their effort will make a difference.

The ability to inspire a shared vision is within each of us.  Like anything else, it is a skill to be honed through practice and use.  Thomas Edison once famously said, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration (“Edison Lecture Series,” 2010).”  Inspiring a shared vision is about getting the inspiration right, so the perspiration creates the right results.

References

Clark, Don. (1997, 4/20/2010). Leading and Leadership  Retrieved 3/19/2011, 2011, from http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/leader/leadled.html

Edison Lecture Series. (2010).   Retrieved 3/24/2011, 2011, from http://www.edisonlectureseries.org/

Kouzes, James M., & Posner, Barry Z. (2006). It’s Not Just the Leader’s Vision. In Frances Hesselbein, Marshall Goldsmith & Leader to Leader Institute. (Eds.), The leader of the future 2 : visions, strategies, and practices for the new era (1st ed., pp. 207-212). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Kouzes, James M., & Posner, Barry Z. (2007). The leadership challenge (4th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

 


The Two Wolves


Photo from Caninest

“The leader’s unique legacy is the creation of valued institutions that survive over time (Kouzes & Posner, 2007, pg. xvi).”  Both Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. were leaders during a time of turmoil and social change.  These leaders, together, and with the countless masses that supported them, transformed a generation, a people and a country.  In his book, Bass describes transformational leaders as, “those who stimulate and inspire followers to both achieve extraordinary outcomes and, in the process, develop their own leadership capacity (2006, pg. 3).”

Kouzes and Posner, renowned transformational leadership scholars, suggest that there are five practices of exemplary leaders; they “model the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, enable others to act, and encourage the heart (2007, pg. 14).”  Both Malcolm X and King exhibited strong characteristics of the transformative leader.  Both challenged the nation’s Jim Crow laws, both inspired the African-American people, and both modeled the way for their followers; Malcolm the model of a proud, educated, strong, Islamic black man and Martin the model of Christian beliefs; loving, charitable, faithful and tolerant.  There were also some key differences, specifically in their vision for African-Americans.

Photo from Tony the Misfit

“Malcolm X was a product of the northern, poor, black masses (Cone, 2009, pg.41).”   Malcolm once famously commented, “All our experiences fuse into our personality…for me to wind up in prison was really just about inevitable (X, M., & Haley, A., 1999, pg. 378).”  Malcolm’s vision was for Black Nationalism; he believed strongly in unity, self-respect, self-defense, self-love and separatism, hoping for a separate, free, black nation (Cone, 2009).  He was a fiery and unapologetic speaker of the truth of the black experience in America.

Martin Luther King, Jr., was a well-educated, middle-class, devout Christian minister.  His philosophy on the power of love and hope drew broadly from the Christian tradition, whereas his operational plan came from Gandhi (Cone, 2009).  “He urged his people to accept their redemptive role by pursuing five objectives: self-respect, high moral standards, whole-hearted work, leadership and nonviolence (Cone, 2009, pg. 71).”  King was an integrationist and believed that Negros future lie in America with equal rights and equal protection under the law.

While both men were great leaders, Martin Luther King Jr.’s leadership style was more effective.  His vision for integration was both optimistic and inclusive as it had appeal for both black and white audiences.  He indicated it was easy for him to be optimistic because of his childhood experiences (Cone, 2009).    In his article, the Leadership Advantage, Warren Bennis writes, “every exemplary leader that I have met has what seems to be an unwarranted degree of optimism — and that helps generate the energy and commitment necessary to achieve results (1999).”

Photo from daBinsi

An angry boy came to see his Grandfather.  The Grandfather told the boy that it was as if he had two wolves inside of him; one wolf that lives in harmony and has love and hope in its heart, and the other wolf that lives in anger and hate and they fight to dominate your spirit.  Curious, the boy asks, “Which one will win?”  His grandfather replied, “The one you feed.”

References

Bass, B. M., & Riggio, R. E. (2006). Transformational Leadership (2nd ed.). Mahwah, N.J. : L. Erlbaum Associates.

Bennis, W. (1999) The Leadership Advantage. Leader to Leader Institute. Retrieved March 18, 2011, from http://www.pfdf.org/knowledgecenter/journal.aspx?ArticleID=53

Cone, J. H. (2009). Martin & Malcolm & America:  A Dream or A Nightmare (19. print. ed.). Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.

Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2007). The Leadership Challenge (4th ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

X, M., & Haley, A. (1999). The Autobiography of Malcolm X. New York: Ballantine Books.