‘Who am I and if so, how many?’ Notes on the myth of leadership authenticity

Ralf Wetzel


Authentic leadership appears as the solution to plenty of problems. Bad economy, bad organizational performance, bad culture would all become subject to change for the better if leaders behave more authentically, according to the line of discussion. However, the debate seems to stand on poor feet, since some core assumptions don’t stand a closer viability check. This paper highlights two core problems in the foundations of the authenticity debate such as the belief in a stable core self and the trust in a homogenous organization. The paper demonstrates not only the fragmented and narrative constitution of self and organization, we show furthermore to which hidden problem the authenticity debate refers; to which the sheer existence of the debate is already a solution. It is the arbitrariness of modern leadership and organization theory, the lacking canonical foundation of the leadership profession, to which the authenticity debate is a proper veil. In providing a proper deflection from more important questions, the leadership authenticity debate proves to be very successful.


authenticity, narrative self, organizational dynamics, organizational roles, role conflict

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