The Future Needs More Authentic Leadership

December 12, 2023

The Future Needs More Authentic Leadership.

“Authentic leadership have a hugely positive impact in teams, including increased trust, engagement, cohesion and improved performance”, says Steve Johnson, co-faculty lead of the program ‘Leading with Self-Awareness

Authentic leadership is a style of leadership that emphasises a presentation of the leader as a person first, role second. This style of leadership encourages leaders to demonstrate their natural, positive psychological capacities, as well as their ethical and honest relationships with their team.

The concept of authentic leadership is based on the idea that the most effective leaders are those who are true to themselves and lead from a place of honesty, integrity and values.

While there is no single “formula” for authentic leadership, because of individual differences and the way different contexts shape leadership behaviour, evidence suggests there are capabilities that authentic leaders demonstrate including the following:


  • Understanding one’s own values strengths, weaknesses, relational and emotional style.
  • Understanding how others see you and your behaviour.
  • Demonstrating a clear understanding of how one’s behaviour impacts others.

Relational Transparency

  • Be open and honest in relationships with others.
  • Sharing one’s true thoughts and feelings and encouraging others to do the same.

Balanced Processing

  • Objectively analysing all relevant data before, making a decision.
  • Seeking out diverse perspectives and considering opposing viewpoints.

Ethical Decision Making

  • Acting in accordance with one’s values and principles.
  • Demonstrating a strong commitment to doing what is right.

Social Identity Creation

  • Creating a compelling vision of the future that inspires a sense of “us”.
  • Building social capital through challenge, support and high standards.
  • Finding unique ways to recognise outstanding performance and celebrate success.

Demonstrate Authentic Behaviour/Action

  • Aligning actions with one’s values and beliefs.
  • Demonstrating consistency and integrity in all interactions.

Authentic Leadership in Practice represents:

  • Reflect Regularly: Spend time in self-reflection to enhance self-awareness.
  • Foster Trust: Build trustful relationships through honesty and transparency.
  • Promote Openness: Encourage open communication and value diverse opinions.
  • Lead by Example: Model ethical behaviour and uphold high moral standards.
  • Be Consistent: Ensure consistency between words and actions.
  • Show Your True Self: Don’t be afraid to show your true self, including your weaknesses.
  • Encourage Authenticity in Others: Create an environment where others feel safe to be their authentic selves.
  • Continuous Learning: Be open to feedback and committed to personal growth.

Authentic leadership have a hugely positive impact in teams, including increased trust, engagement, cohesion and improved performance.

Most importantly authentic leadership inspires genuine followership over the long term, which is often challenging for leaders to sustain.

However, authentic leadership requires a genuine commitment to personal development and a willingness to be vulnerable and open with others. For most leaders this is the most challenging part.

Steve Johnson is CEO of the Wellbeing Science Institute.

Steve Johnson is CEO of the Wellbeing Science Institute. He will be co-faculty lead of ‘Leading with Self-Awareness a joint program run by Johan Cruyff Institute and Wellbeing Science Institute.

Leading with Self-Awareness is an innovative leadership program that focuses key areas of modern neuroscience to help leaders develop and integrate a nuanced emotional toolkit into their leadership practice.


Leading with Self-Awareness Program

A truly innovative program around the Mindset, Attributes, and Capabilities required for leaders to be successful in the future world of sport and business. 'Leading with Self-Awareness' will be taught in English, from February to August 2024, in blended learning mode and will consist of six modules: 2 modules on campus, in Amsterdam and Barcelona, and 4 modules online. The program has been designed for coaches, managers and leaders who understand the relevance of a new mindset, motivation and leadership skills that all modern and successful organizations require.

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