Moral Compass

Authentic Leadership


The role of positional leadership is critical to the reputation of the organisation. Positional leadership is also associated with power, legitimacy and authenticity. The authenticity of a leader will be determined by the leaders propensity for either selfless or selfish motivations

Authentic leaders consistently say they find their motivation through understanding their own stories. Their
stories enable them to know who they are and to stay
focused on their True North.

George et. Al (2007:8)
cited in

Authentic transformational leadership must rest on a moral foundation
of legitimate values. The opposite is inauthentic or pseudo-
transformational leadership, that of leaders who consciously or
unconsciously act in bad faith
(Sartre, 1992)


Authenticy:  Being true to yourself and others


The collective leadership framework places behaviours as a high level outcome of shared values. Part of the problem is that the focus of traditional leadership theories has been more about the individual than the collective. The journey starts with the individual but, if most (individual) leaders are indeed fundamentally flawed in some vital respects, is this because they are driven by intrinsic values and motivation?  If so, the role of collective leadership is to mitigate those flaws by focusing on shared values. Based on a review of literature and my experience and research over many more years than I care to remember, a range of case studies are explored against a framework for leadership through 360° intelligent networks, knowledge and skills assisted by a moral and value-laden leadership compass.


A moral compass often tells us through our intuition that something that we are going to do, or something that we are asked to do does not feel right. Have you ever experienced that physiological response where your hair stands up on the back of your neck, your palms become sweaty and your heart is pounding? It is probably because you are involved in some activity that goes against your values.

The Selfless Leader refers to Philip Zimbardo’s classic work in which he asks why some people will commit evil acts? But, it it is not as simple as just trying to judge a persons character or demeanour. People will do some awful things because of the context in which they find themselves. This is why both our individual and our shared values are some important.

We can ask questions about their honesty, and their integrity and their selfishness. But, what is really important, is to look at the context in which they are being asked to undertake this action. Pride and ego are often factors!

This is where a person’s moral compass comes into play. Your moral compass will tell you intuitively that what you are thinking of doing is wrong and you will feel reluctant. Do not underestimate your reluctance and think very carefully about what you are being asked to do. The Old World and New World Leaders often put pressure on their followers to take a particular action but – as Global World Leaders – we can learn from the worst of the past just as much as we can learn from the best of the past.

We need to understand that we are all fallible and can make mistakes of judgement and conscience. If you have a moral compass it will help you to learn from your past and improve your future.

The Selfless Leader