Effective Leadership is the key to long term organizational growth and sustainability. According to Hulsmans (2011), employees today demand personal growth and learning that will engage and stimulate them. They want to be challenged, and they need to be trusted and held accountable.
Leaders today are challenged to meet the professional growth needs of staff, maintain transparency of organizational goals, vision, mission, and values, in order to create an environment of trust and sound communication, while also improving efficiency and effectiveness of workforce teams to improve overall organizational performance. Effective leaders sustain their authenticity (George, 2007, p.7). Today’s pressing leadership issue of developing and sustaining effective leadership, requires the discovery of one’s own authenticity.
Bill George, former chairman and CEO of Medtronic, analyzed more than 3,000 pages of transcripts from the interviews of 125 leaders, half of which were CEOs, and found the leadership styles of the most effective leaders emerged from their life stories. The analysis gleamed that the leaders were consciously and subconsciously testing themselves through their experiences and continued to reframe their life stories to understand who they were at their core (George, 2007, p. 1).
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George (2007) further discerned that the leaders, by continually analyzing who they were, discovered the purpose of their leadership and learned that being authentic made them more effective. The road to effective leadership requires the detection of one’s authenticity which requires a commitment to developing one’s self. Self-awareness, personal vision and purpose, and leading with the principles that support one’s value base, stabilizes authenticity and strengthens effective leadership.
On the road to effective leadership, authentic leaders build strong support teams, ground themselves in who they are and allow themselves to be the same person in each personal and professional environment in which they interact. The ability of the authentic leader to balance personal and professional life is essential to their effectiveness as a leader, and to their ability to lead others to improved performance. Leadership is a partnering relationship with the follower.
Without followers, leadership does not exist (Goffee, 2009). Wong and Cummings (2009) draw a positive relationship between the authentic leader and follower partnership, and the creation of healthy work environments. Wong and Cummings (2009) further allude that the combination of authenticity and trust in the leader follower relationship creates sustainable changes in work environments.
Goffee (2009) describes authentic leaders as those able to modify their behavior to respond to the needs of their followers and the situations they encounter while simultaneously remaining true to who they are. If authentic leaders maintain situational awareness, a sense of true-self, build empathetic relationships and successfully communicate with followers, then they are better equipped to instill trust, strengthen communication, and empower others (Goffee, 2009).
An empowered, passionate, and committed workforce is the reward of the authentic leader. Authentic leaders demonstrate and sustain a passion for purpose, practice their values consistently, and lead with their hearts and their heads (George, 2007, p.1). Authentic leaders practice self-discipline and maintain meaningful relationships. According to George (2007), “they (authentic leaders) know who they are” (p.1).
Authentic leaders are better prepared to achieve and sustain performance excellence over time making their leadership style highly effective and deeply fulfilling.
The Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP), a practice-focused doctoral education, focused on innovative and evidence-based practice, while reflecting the application of credible research findings (AACN, 2006 ), will provide the foundational competencies for authentic leadership within a framework for organizational and systems leadership.
Integrative practice experiences and intense practice immersion are essential components of the DNP, and will provide a scholarly skill set to achieve my goal of improving health outcomes through excellence in practice, in an environment of safety. The competencies I seek to acquire in the scholarly DNP program at Salisbury University will prepare an authentic nursing leader for the highest level of leadership while procuring excellence not only in practice but also in the development of self.
- American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2006). The Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice. Washington D.C. http://www.aacn.nche.edu/dnp/Essentials.pdf
- Hulsmans, L. (2011) Corporate Leadership: Are you up to the challenge? Banff Centre. Retrieved from http://www.banffcentre.ca/departments/leadership/library/pdf/corporate_leadership_article.pdf.
- Goffee, R., Jones, G., Authentic Leadership. Leadership Excellence. Retrieved from http://www.blessingwhite.com/content/articles/Authentic_Leadership_Goffee_Jones.pdf
- George, B., Sims, P., McLean, A., Mayer, D. (2007) Discovering Your Authentic Leadership Harvard Business Review. www.HBR.ORG. February.
- Wong, C., Cumming, C., (2009) Authentic Leadership: A new theory for nursing or back to basics? Journal of Health Organization and Management, 23(5): 522-38.
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