I found the concept of authentic leadership a bit puzzling. Take for example the following definition by Walumbwa, Avolio, Gardner, Wernsing, and Peterson which states authentic leadership is "a pattern of leader behavior that develops from and is grounded in the leader's positive psychological qualities and strong ethics" (2008, as cited in Northouse, 2013, p.254). Robert Terry agrees that there is a moral foundation to authentic leadership; however he defines this approach more in terms of actions taken rather than psychological qualities (Northouse, 2013). So, is authentic leadership an action or an attitude? Regardless, what is agreed is that a high degree of self-awareness, honesty and transparency are requisite and form the pool from which will be drawn the answers to the challenges authentic leaders face.
While trying to get a better grasp of authentic leadership I found an interesting article by Dr. Saj-nicole Joni. Giving credence to my own confusion Dr. Joni (2006) concedes that authentic leadership is neither simple or nor uncontrived. Supporting the moral component suggested by Terry and Walumbwa et al., Warren Bennis suggests leadership be "rooted in visible purpose and values that we can consistently count on" (as quoted in Joni, 2006). The common theme throughout the rest of the article is that authenticity results from the blending of honesty, transparency, and purpose. It would seem then that authentic leadership is the right behavior resulting from the right attitude, one which values truth and is guided by a purpose which pervades the community not just exists within the person in charge.
Joni, S.A., (2006, September 25). Wanted: Authentic Leaders. Forbes. Retrieved 11/16/12 from http://www.forbes.com/2006/09/22/leadership-harvard-cuban-lead-manage-cx_snj_0925opinion.html
Northouse, P.G. (2013). Leadership: Theory and Practice. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.