Authentic leadership, identity & social media

by Justin Souter on February 14, 2011


I’ve moved to write this mini-series of posts by listening to some more fascinating podcasts in the car. It’s a really great way to use time on the road in a constructive way. :-)

I’m sensing there is a connection between some different articles I’ve been listening to / reading about:

  • ‘Authentic leadership’
  • The extent to which organisations and individuals are laid bare when using social media
  • The power of word of mouth marketing
  • And the extent to which business has established competitive advantage by advertising which is also ‘authentic’

Authentic Leadership

I’ve been attending events being run by The Bridge Club at Newcastle Business School. In doing so, I had a conversation with Jane Turner, Associate Dean (Development), at the Corporate & Executive Development Centre there. She has recently published “Developing ‘Authentic Leaders’ – The leaders’ coaching journey”.

photo of William W. GeorgeIt rang a bell with a podcast I listened to recently, related to a Harvard Business Review article “Discovering your Authentic Leadership” (by Bill George [right], amongst others). A couple of quotes:

We all have the capacity to inspire and empower others. But we must first be willing to devote ourselves to our personal growth and development as leaders.


Authentic leaders demonstrate a passion for their purpose, practice their values consistently, and lead with their hearts as well as their heads. They establish long-term, meaningful relationships and have the self-discipline to get results. They know who they are.

To my mind, this is contrasted with stereotypical images of business / salesmen like Gareth Cheeseman (& cf v funny video). Also, in an age of austerity, when business school luminaries such as Michael Porter are investigating the very relationship between capitalism and civil society, authentic leadership is an issue for our times.

What’s next

In seeking to write this series, I am attempting to pull together some disparate streams of good business practice, in order to validate being authentic and genuine at work, and allow other people to be happier as a result.

My feeling is that I haven’t got this quite nailed, but I’m posting to help it all crystallise ;-)

Running order looks like:

  • The first post is this
  • The second post looks at how idealised images of ‘beauty’ are being replaced by real-life ones, and the impact this trend on the bottom line
  • The third post examines the challenge for organisations, run on a ‘command and control’ basis, to cope with the freewheeling nature of the social media world
  • The fourth post looks at the related topic of word-of-mouth marketing, and how it is a double-edged sword – but again, dependent on authenticity.

UPDATE: I’ve changed the month published to February, as it was originally tagged January. I think I started drafting it in January…

Series NavigationAuthentic leadership, identity & social media – part ii

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