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What is Authentic Leadership?

May 14, 2013 by Jeff James, Vice President & General Manager, Disney Institute


How do you define a leader?

At Disney, we recognize a leader as anyone who influences change. We expect Cast Members to act as leaders regardless of their role within the company. This commitment to the Disney model of leadership is grounded in four principles: envision the future, organize the operation, engage the team, and commit to the results.

Why do leaders fail to influence change?

Sometimes leaders attempt to be the person they think their employees expect them to be, as if they were an actor playing the role of a leader. Employees recognize these inconsistent behaviors and become less trusting and sometimes resentful.

What is authentic leadership?

Authentic leadership is a genuine approach to leadership. Authentic leaders are those whose actions are based on their core values. They are originals.

While Forbes Contributor, Kevin Kruse, recognizes that authentic leadership can be defined in a variety of ways, most would agree that:

  1. Authentic leaders are self-aware. They’re not afraid to show their real selves to their followers. Their behavior doesn’t differ whether they are in public or in private; they don’t hide their mistakes out of fear of looking weak.
  2. Authentic leaders are mission driven and focus on results. The goals of the organization come before their own self-interest.
  3. Authentic leaders lead with their heart (in addition to their mind). They are direct, yet empathetic. They are not afraid to show vulnerabilities to connect with their followers.
  4. Authentic leaders focus on the long-term. Short-term goals sometimes pale in comparison to the big picture. This type of leader takes the time and has the patience to nurture his followers, which usually pays dividends in the long haul.


Posted in Leadership Excellence | Tagged Authentic Leadership, Leadership Training & Development, Leadership Styles, Effective Management, Jeff James | 0 Comments


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