Define Potential Blog

Finding your inner authentic leader

19 February 2018

The Greek philosophy phrase ‘To thine own self be true’ captures the essence of authenticity. Authenticity is about being honest and true to yourself, and being aware of what motivates and drives you.
Throughout my career as a business leader I have always strived to lead my teams with integrity, while balancing the needs of all team members and staying positive in the face of organisational change. Each day I have made solid business decisions, supported staff members in their careers and challenged myself to be a better manager, leader and colleague. Through all of this I have struggled with the concept of me as a manager/ executive. I have distanced myself from emotion and protected myself through formal corporate dress, compendiums and my image.

However, over the past few years I realised that my protective mechanisms and acting with integrity was not enough – I needed to become an authentic leader.

The importance of authentic leadership has been recognised over the past few years. Avolio et al. (2005) and other academics and practitioners believe that in today’s challenging times when leaders are required to make decisions without all of the information, and the world of work is rapidly shifting, more authentic leadership is needed.
Shamir and Eilam (2005) identified four specific characteristics of authentic leaders:
1. They are true to themselves, rather than faking their leadership;
2. They are motivated by and act upon their personal convictions and values rather than status;
3. They lead from their point of view; and above all else
4. They are ‘originals not copies’ (Shamir & Eilam 2005, p.3).

I agree with Avolio et al. (2005) and Shamir and Eilam (2005) and believe that authentic leadership is about finding your voice and having confidence, optimism, hope and resilience in your personal tool kit.
So how can you find your inner authentic leader?
1. Define your Mission by identifying your personal goals, values and motivations and writing them down;
2. Take time in office discussions to check in with yourself and ask if you are acting in alignment with your Mission;
3. Always strive to act in accordance with your Mission and your personal values- if something doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t;
4. Be yourself and embrace your originality- no one is like you and no one can take your place; and
5. If you need assistance consider discussing your Mission with a coach or mentor.

I am constantly striving to be an authentic leader. While some days I succeed, I am aware that some days I don’t, but by articulating my personal Mission: to help APS leaders and managers build their capability and realise their potential, I am making progress.


Jane Marburg, Managing Director, Define Potential

Jane has worked within the HR consultancy, general management and business development fields for the past seventeen years developing an excellent understanding of leadership, management and recruitment issues within the Australian Public Sector (APS).

Jane is a highly-experienced leader with extensive project management and contract management experience. Over a number of years, she was the contract manager for a large number of APS recruitment, learning and development panels, including the Australian Public Service Commission Recruitment, Learning and Development Panel and the Department of Industry panel.


Avolio,B.J & Gardner, W.L., 2005. Authentic leadership development: Getting to the root of positive forms of leadership. The leadership quarterly, 16(3), pp. 315-338.

Shamir, B & Eilam, G, 2005. “What’s your story?” A life-stories approach to authentic leadership development. The leadership quarterly, 16 (3), pp. 395-417.

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