Expert Voices

Authenticity + “for good” = a new age of leadership

Whether we like it or not leaders are role models and a constant source of motivation and behaviours to follow. These can be explicit or implicit, verbal and non-verbal, openly agreed or unspoken. 

Typically we take our cues from leaders and work towards the expected performance and outcomes. We often stay with leaders when we feel and see alignment to their own values, ethics and vision. There is the old saying that “people don’t leave organisations – they leave leaders”, which has been hotly debated through various research methods to be a myth or a truth. Regardless of who is right, we all know what it is like to work for a leader where we feel synergy to their leadership purpose, work practices and drivers for good. 

Now let’s bring in new leadership models in relation to leading change for good. In many ways the core fundamentals are no different. However, there are key components that each of us either consciously or without even realising it – will recognise. 

The first is authenticity. We may not be able to put the actions of authenticity into words but intuitively we know what it feels like and what it looks like. 

Being authentic is taking a stronghold in the leadership realm. For two reasons. 

The first is that emotional and social intelligence is now a leadership competency and expectation for all modern leaders of today. All cutting edge leadership programmes are a strong combination of personal and professional development along with embracing the Profound Leadership fundamentals of; servant leadership, authentic leadership, Level 5 leadership, spiritual leadership and transformation leadership (Scott, Carr-Chellmann & Hammes, 2020)

The second reason is the global ‘for good’ phenomena that is being seen everywhere today. There is a groundswell of new businesses and start-ups fully embracing ‘for good’. It is the new social enterprise licence if you like, where combining profitable business practices whilst addressing social, environmental, gender, ethnicity, national and global for good issues has become paramount. 

Existing businesses’ and organisations are driving ‘for good’ initiatives from within either as separate community projects or internal initiatives. They can be seen as actions from bringing your own coffee cup to corporate sustainability drivers of recycling, minimising single-use plastics and coffee-cart businesses owned by people with hearing impairments as a motivation for overcoming employment barriers for people living with disabilities. 

What is being coined as contemporary leadership and business models today all have the hallmarks and tenants of what kaupapa Maori and indigenous models have always purported. These models are value-based, have long-term vision, are for and by the people, collaborative, support sustainability, kept alive through narrative and with regular consultation. They reflect the common concern with individual and collective morality and strongly emphasise the significance of human relationships (Ruwhiu & Elkin, 2016). 

Leadership for good is facing new and exciting horizons. Through the recent major disruption the world has experienced this is forcing us to not only think differently, also to adapt, be iterative, be empathetic, draw on our past experiences, look at our own backyard more closely first and then outward. Leaders are being challenged to be innovative locally and remain connected to global markets. 

It is an extremely interesting time. 

Dr Mandy Lacy is the programme lead for our Postgraduate Certificate in Leading Change for Good*.

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Leading Change for Good

We’ve developed a new leadership programme to ensure Kiwis have the capability to lead change for good, in their organisations, communities or businesses. Leading Change for Good* harnesses the learnings from both new leadership models, and indigenous leadership styles, to build a new type of leader.

*Currently pending NZQA approval.