From the early 2000s onwards, authentic leadership has continued to garner growing interest from academia, the public sector, and across multiple industries. Perhaps the reason for the increased focus on authenticity is the unethical behavior demonstrated by a number of leaders from 2000 to 2010. While there is growing interest in demonstrating authenticity as a situational leadership style or even an inherent trait, there is limited research on what leadership strategies or practices are most effective for authentic leaders. This study was designed to apply a common definition, or set of criteria, to identify leaders that are authentic. Once this group of authentic leaders has been identified, research can be conducted to understand common characteristics, traits, styles, practices, and strategies. Conversely, the opportunity exists to understand what common challenges authentic leaders face to determine mitigation strategies. The findings of this study provided exemplary best practices for leaders in business and other fields. To help ground the study, a detailed literature review of leadership theory, and authentic leadership’s place within the study of leadership, was completed. The historical examination of leadership is important as it adds richness and context to how authenticity has risen to prominence within empirical and theoretical research. This research showed that common leadership strategies and practices among authentic leaders include the ability to connect and engage through honest and transparent storytelling. Authentic leaders are vulnerable and transparent, and they enable and engage people and organizations through sharing a compelling vision. Their core leadership approach of honesty and transparency does not change, but they will flex how direct they are based on the situation and audience. In terms of challenges, authentic senior leaders have a high desire for their authentic approach to be reciprocated, and they can be too demanding. In order to overcome these challenges, they try to manage their stress and use physiological and mental means to manage energy. Authentic senior leaders measure success in terms of business results, talent development, and being recognized. The advice they have for future leader is to be one’s authentic self and to understand one’s personal mission and purpose.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Leadership -- Case studies; Corporate culture -- Moral and ethical aspects; Storytelling

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Madjidi, Farzin;