504, 2017

What’s More Important for Authentic Leadership? Leadership Values or Vulnerability?

By |April 5th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

emotional intelligence

Bernard Bass (2008) writes, “Successful leaders share values with those they lead” (p. 197). Unintentionally, the author has identified an aspect of the problem: leaders who model immaturity and limited self-awareness breed immature and unconscious values in their followers. Conversely, many leaders attempt to manipulate their followers by researching their values, and pretending to share these values. Billions of dollars are spent annually to analyze the political climate. Bass says, “To be politically successful in the United States a leader must emphasize the value of individualism.” Again, he unconsciously points to the problem: Individualism may not, in fact, be an authentic value to a particular political leader, but the role of political leader demands a superficial adjustment away from authenticity. Just as the engineer who was an artistic child who abandoned the paintbrush after a parental enticement to “be more practical”, leadership can entice and reward the ability to be inauthentic.

My father warned away from leadership saying, “Don’t climb the ladder, you are a better target up there and you could fall”. That advice (as well as most of his other suggestions) was ignored in favor of personal research. As a leader, this writer has experienced (and observed in other leaders) the full range of success and disaster. Often, there was divergence from personal values in pursuit of perceived success that preceded failure. Projections from followers can be strong in both positive and negative directions and the need (for perceived survival purposes) to manipulate follower opinion can be strong enough to make a leader abdicate personal values.

The tendency to avoid feelings and personal expression is understandable. Many of us were taught to avoid vulnerability at all cost. The feminine version is “be nice” and the masculine version is “be tough”. Both can be equally inauthentic and are a result of an attempt to please a parental figure (and subsequently superiors or followers). The masculine directive is probably linked to the toughness that is necessary in battle. In describing the warrior model of leadership, Bass (2008) writes, “The means justifies the ends for

[the warrior leader], even if they must resort to deception, betrayal, violence, and other morally questionable acts” (p. 49). However, when life and death is not the issue, the avoidance of integrity and emotional honesty is a cop-out of significant proportion.

Considerable research points to the higher performance abilities of executives with emotional intelligence attributes and especially with the ability to be genuine and vulnerable. In a 25 year study of executive leadership, Goffee and Jones (2000) identify vulnerability as the most important quality for effective leaders, writing, “Inspirational leaders selectively show their weaknesses. By exposing some vulnerability, they reveal their approachability and humanity. Exposing weakness establishes trust and thus helps get folks on board.”

As authenticity increases, leadership becomes more genuine, and although the path may be painful, this writer believes the resulting deepening of life experience is worth the effort. The unexamined life may or may not be worth living, but now that it has been revealed that profit and productivity is being affected, perhaps there is a wake-up call on the horizon of leadership values.


Bass, B. M. (2008). The Bass handbook of leadership: Theory, research, and managerial applications (4th ed.). New York: Free Press.

Blatner, A. (2000) Foundations of Psychodrama: History, theory and practice, (4th ed.). New York: Springer.

Blattner, J., & Bacigalupo, A. (2007). Using emotional intelligence to develop executive leadership and team and organizational development. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 59(3), 209-219.
Bradberry, T., & Greaves, J. (2003). The emotional intelligence quickbook. San Diego, CA: Talentsmart.

Goffee, R., & Jones, G., (2000). Why should anyone be led by you. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from:

Kilburg, R. (2004). When shadows fall: Using psychodynamic approaches in executive coaching. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 56(4), 246-268.

King, S., Nicol, D. M. (1999), Organizational enhancement through recognition of individual spirituality: Reflections of Jaques and Jung. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 12(3), 234-243.

2403, 2017

Emotional Intelligence and Leadership Values

By |March 24th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments


Bernard Bass (2008), in his Handbook of Leadership, suggests that leadership values depend on occupational and societal influences and that the differences in values “range from education to nationality” (p. 197). There is little suggestion in the text, though, that personal and family history is important in the formulation or the transformation of leadership values. This writing will focus on how leadership can be a set-up for superficial values formation, and identifies some possible psychodynamic interventions toward authentic leadership.

As leaders in the world of organizational and leadership development, it may be time to stop avoiding the bleeding elephant in the corporate living room. Unconscious behavior, immaturity, and hyper-intellectualization must be confronted in organizational settings in order to bring change. Though the literature on Emotional Intelligence is limited on why intellectual focus has become such a highly prized value, the need for emotional skills is clearly evident. Bradberry and Greaves (2003) write that Emotional Intelligence is made up of skills, “…that cover how one recognizes and understands emotions, manages his or her behavior, and manages relationships.

[These] skills are important because together they capture everything an individual does that is not a function of how smart he or she is” (as quoted in Blattner, 2007, p. 210). The extraordinary resistance to feelings awareness and expression in upper level leadership and management is a significant problem and must be addressed with intention, compassion, and skill.

If educated and highly trained psychologists, facilitators, and organizational development professionals don’t address this problem, who will?

There is a bumper sticker that reads, “Hate is not a family value.” Well, hate is in fact a family value just as hate was a leadership value for Adolf Hitler; manipulation was a leadership value for Bernie Madoff, and intellectualization and avoidance of emotional truth is a leadership value for a majority of leaders at all levels. It is an epidemic and an intervention is called for. Of course, when problems become obvious, such as the banking and corporate debacle, a flurry of retribution and punitive actions are taken. But, just as spanking children (at the family level) and the death penalty (at the societal level) have proven ineffective reactive deterrents, leaders are in need of options for transformation rather than being written off as evildoers.


1403, 2017

What is Authentic Leadership?

By |March 14th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , |0 Comments

authentic leadership

An authentic leader’s style refers to a personal way of being. Landy and Conte describe the authentic leader as “genuine” and as a good “listener” (p. 567). This is congruent with most references (styles, models, and theories) to authentic leaders as being self-aware and other-aware. Bernard Bass (2008) reports, “Herb Kelleher, the highly rated CEO of Southwest Airlines, declared that he didn’t have a leadership style except being himself” (p. 224). If Kelleher has a leadership style, it may be “authentic.”

More than a simple description of a leader’s manner, a theory requires some derivative context. Wolubwa et al. (2008) writes, “Although authentic leadership theory is in its early stages of conceptual development, the construct of authenticity has deep roots in philosophy . . .

[and] a theory of authentic leadership has been emerging over the last several years from the intersection of the leadership, ethics, and positive organizational behavior and scholarship literatures” (p. 92). These researchers have distilled common aspects of previous research, and theorize that the following statement describes the nature and consequences of authentic leadership: “Specifically, we define authentic leadership 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. 95).

Though a model incorporates the suppositions of the theory, the focus is more on the way in which the components interact. Bass (2008) presents a visual model of the effects of leader authenticity showing that it directly affects staff authenticity which in turn influences organizational health and climate (p. 224).


Bass, B. M. (2008). The Bass handbook of leadership: Theory, research, and managerial applications (4th ed.). New York: Free Press.

Landy, F. J., & Conte, J. M. (2007). Work in the 21st century: An introduction to industrial and organizational psychology (2nd ed.). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

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