Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Authentic Leadership

Written by: on November 30, 2023


At first glance, this book seemed massive and overwhelming. I decided to take a different approach to reading this book. I will be honest, inspectional reading is my only option at this point in the semester as my leadership responsibilities are bleeding over into every aspect of my life, I feel like the role is taking over my life. One of the bigger struggles that I am facing is trying to remain true to my style of leadership in the midst of so many daily challenges. I decided to look for answers in this book. I sought out practical tools to help me in this week’s reading. I was drawn to Chapter 9- Authentic Leadership.

Transformational Versus Authentic

“Authentic Leadership represents one of the newer areas of leadership research. It focuses on whether leadership is genuine and “real”. As the title of this approach implies, authentic leadership is about the authenticity of leaders and their leadership.”(1)
For years, the popular term as been “transformational leadership”. I have participated in many Executive Searches and the term is used on both sides of the interview table. Organizations want a “Transformational” Leader that can take the organization to the next level and Candidates often describe themselves as “Transformational” Leaders, touting the ability to move the organization forward. What is often overlooked is the characteristics that are truly required to move the needle. Staff and Constituents want someone that is who that say they are. They want to know that they can count on you to do the things that you commit to doing. I have found that the razzle dazzle approach to leadership no longer works. Authenticity is desired more than big promises. Northouse states, “People’s demands for trustworthy leadership make the study of authentic leadership timely and worthwhile.” (2) There is a greater opportunity to work collaboratively with staff and supporters when the leader is authentic and committed to fostering the same in the organization. As Northouse states, “Authenticity emerges from the interactions between leaders and followers. It is a reciprocal process because leaders affect followers and followers affect leaders.” (3) I am grateful that this approach is being study and included as a respectable style of leadership.

The Approach

Northouse distinguishes authentic leadership into two approaches, he states, “formulations about authentic leadership can be differentiated into two areas: (1) the practical approach, which evolved from real-life examples as well as the training and development of literature; and (2) the theoretical approach, which is based on findings form social science research.” (3) I will focus on the practical approach. As I stated earlier in the post, I am seeking tools that I can apply in my current role as Interim CEO.

Northouse introduces Bill Goerge a corporate executive with years of experiences, he says “George found that authentic leaders have a genuine desire to serve others, they know themselves, and they feel free to lead from their core values.” (4) George presents five basic leadership characteristics that authentic leaders demonstrate: “(1) They have a strong sense of purpose, (2) they have strong values about the right thing to do, (3) they establish trusting relationships with other, (4) they demonstrate self-discipline and act on their values, and (5) they are sensitive and empathetic to the plight of others (George, 2003).” (5)
As George defines, these authentic leadership characteristics he states, “They have a clear idea of who they are, where they are going, and what the right thing is to do. When tested in difficult situations, authentic leaders do not compromise their values, but rather use those situations to strengthen their values.” (6) What is interesting is that George keeps compassion and heart as essential aspects of authentic leadership. These are often seen as weaknesses in leadership. What I appreciate about George’s approach is that it gives direction and activities that can help to develop skills that may not be natural for some.

Case Study

I love Brene Brown. I have felt a connection to her work since her first book was published. She is a friend of my mentor and I remain hopeful that one day we will connect through the beautiful person that we have in common. I selected the Chapter before I realized that she was the subject of one of the case studies. Her work on authenticity, shame and fear is remarkable. I am sharing a passage from her book, Braving the Wilderness that really speaks to walking bravely in your authentic self, she writes:
“True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you ate; it requires you to be who you are.” (7)
I decided to be brave and take the Leadership Self- Assessment Questionnaire created by Walumbwa and Associates.
Here is my score:
Self- Awareness 18
Internalized Moral Perspective 20
Balanced Processing 15
Relational Transparency 16
My scores indicate that I have a high authentic leadership in the areas of self-awareness, Internalized Moral Perspective, and Relational Transparency and I have a low authentic leadership in the area of Balanced Processing. I encourage you to also take the assessment on Page 249-250. You just might be surprised by your scores!

1.Peter Northouse, Leadership: Theory & Practice (Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2022), 221.
2.Ibid., 221.
3.Ibid., 222.
4.Ibid., 222.
5.Ibid., 223.
6.Peter Northouse, Leadership: Theory & Practice (Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2022), 225.
7.Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone (New York: Random House, 2019), 40.

About the Author


Jonita Fair-Payton

14 responses to “Authentic Leadership”

  1. I wrote about this chapter as well!

    Your post offers an insightful exploration of authentic versus transformational leadership. It’s particularly interesting how you align with Northouse’s view on the necessity of authenticity in leaders. The practical tools and Bill George’s characteristics you mention are really valuable. It’s intriguing to see compassion and empathy framed as leadership strengths. In your experience as Interim CEO, how have you navigated the application of these traits, especially when it comes to balancing empathy with firm decision-making?

    • mm Jonita Fair-Payton says:

      Hi Mathieu,

      I am a compassionate person; I know this about myself, and it is not going to change. I always listen with a thoughtful ear, but I make decisions based on facts, policies, and guidelines. It is not difficult when you start with clearly outlined expectations, agreed upon goals and set deliverables. It can get complicated when you the space (position) after things are in motion and have to re-establish goals. Some of my go-to phrases; Do you understand the expectations? Do you have anything that you would like to discuss? Do you foresee any barriers to meeting your goals? Do you require any additional support to meet your goals?

  2. Kally Elliott says:

    Your post got me thinking about being a church leader in my denomination. Your write, “ As George defines, these authentic leadership characteristics he states, “They have a clear idea of who they are, where they are going, and what the right thing is to do.” I think it is a struggle in our current day and climate as a pastor to truly know where we as a church are going. Is the church dying? Is it being reformed? Are just spinning our wheels going nowhere? I truly don’t know these days and I think that is part of my pastoral leadership problem. We hear so many conflicting messages about the state of the church and it is so easy to get discouraged and feel like the church is dying. Just some thoughts…

    • mm Jonita Fair-Payton says:


      I was having a similar conversation with a Pastor last week. The Church that he leads meets in our Church Building one Sunday a month and they will increase it to two Sundays at the start of the new year. We were discussing how that traditional church model does not work for young adults. He was a little concerned that increasing to twice a month might actually decrease attendance. They have engagement activities throughout the month that are heavily attended…his congregation is connected and serving but the traditional model of church every Sunday for 2 hours is not appealing to them. I believe that the Church has to change to meet the needs of the community and that may mean moving beyond tradition. I know that in some circles my entire response may be considered blasphemy.

  3. Jenny Dooley says:

    Hi Jonita,
    Thank you for unpacking authentic leadership for us! I was very interested in it as well. I love how you linked Brene Brown to this leadership style. I have not read that particular book you cited and love the quote. You mentioned at the beginning of your post, “One of the bigger struggles that I am facing is trying to remain true to my style of leadership in the midst of so many daily challenges.” Of the many tools and insights you mentioned from this model, which do you see might help us as leaders stay true to ourselves when there is a pull to be otherwise just to get the job done? You are in my prayers as you lead in challenging spaces.

    • mm Jonita Fair-Payton says:


      I love me some Brene Brown! I was thrilled to have the opportunity to include her in my post. I think demonstrating self-discipline and remaining true to yourself is the best way forward…possibly in most cases.

  4. Hey Lady, it is no surprise you wrote about transformational leadership because your intimacy with the Father is so evident as you engage with people. I believe this is one of the reasons your leadership is transformational. Thanks for your godly example! Since I trust your leadership, wisdom, and insight I have an easy question for you. Our non-profit is looking for a Chairperson for our Board of Directors. Our goal is to have someone by February 1st. What are three non negotiables we should look for as we seek for someone to take our counseling center to the next level?

    • mm Jonita Fair-Payton says:

      Hi Todd,

      What an exciting time for you and the Counseling Center. The Chairperson role is so important. Here is my advice:

      1. Someone that is fully invested and committed to the Goals of the Center

      2. Someone with strong community and corporate connections.

      3. Someone with values that align with your Executive Team

      If I had to add a 4th

      4. Someone that can hold all parties accountable.

  5. mm Jana Dluehosh says:

    I too have had to completely rely on inspectional reading of our books, so you are not alone. I really appreciate your highlighting authentic leadership and I hope to take the quiz:). I like that about this book as it helps us assess ourselves. What surprised you about your results? explain what balanced processing means? If you want:). I’m assuming we all have areas of strength and weakness.

    • mm Jonita Fair-Payton says:

      Hey Jana,

      I have been so grateful for the introduction of inspectional reading and the permission to utilize it.
      I think I was most surprised by my balanced processing score. It was my lowest score. I would have thought that it would have been higher, but my compassion more than likely brought it down. I spend a great deal of time thinking about how everyone will be affected by decision.

  6. Adam Harris says:

    Being in your peer group and getting to know you over the last year and a half, it is not surprising that you have a high score of transparency. I love your honesty Jonita, in your posts and in conversations. I know that will serve you well in your NPO journey as well. You are someone that keeps it 100 and I respect that!

    • mm Jonita Fair-Payton says:

      Thank you, Adam! You are such a genuine and kind soul. I am grateful that we are in the same peer group and have forged a friendship. As my Daddy would say, “You are good people!”

  7. mm Dinka Utomo says:

    Hi Jonita!

    I am very inspired by your comments.
    The importance of authentic leadership is emphasized. Honestly, I really like Northouse’s ideas on authenticity in leadership. When you emphasize this, do you see the phenomenon of leadership in both the secular and church realms that is no longer authentic?

    Then you write, “What’s interesting is that George makes compassion and heart an important aspect of authentic leadership. This is often considered a weakness of leadership. What I appreciate about George’s approach is that it provides direction and activities that can help develop skills which may not be natural for some people.” My question is: what if affection is actually used by people who only want to benefit themselves?

  8. Jonita, I loved your self-scoring.

    Your exploration of authentic leadership and the practical approach provided by Bill George is commendable. The emphasis on authenticity, strong values, trusting relationships, and empathy in leadership aligns with the changing expectations of leaders today. Recognizing the importance of these qualities and their role in fostering collaboration and trust within organizations is a valuable insight. It’s essential for leaders to be genuine and committed to their core values while understanding and developing their leadership style.

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