Authentic Leadership

Abdel-Magied shared a video titled “Why write a memoir at 24?” (2016) which perfectly articulates a vision for her own leadership, why she does it and how she thinks young women, Muslim women and women of colour can benefit from her platform and position as a role model.  She highlights a significant life event, being unable to see any role models that reflected her story.

This short story highlights Abdel-Magied as a singular entity, forging her own path on issues she sees as important; from an intrapersonal perspective, a product of her life-experiences (Shamir & Eilam 2005) which she uses to establish her credibility as an authentic leader.

Authentic Leadership Characteristics (George 2003)

This video exhibits all of the characteristics of George’s (2003) practical approach to authentic leadership. Those are Purpose, Values, Relationships, Self-Discipline and Heart. Important to authenticity, Abdel-Magied maintains strong interpersonal relationships with followers (Eagly 2005). They reflect and share the values Ms Abdel-Magied espouses, coming to her defense in relation to the frequent negative attacks she endures as a public female figure challenging the status quo; further evidence of her authenticity.

Her original ANZAC day post was actually about compassion (heart) for people trapped in war zones and long-term detention.  Her self-discipline is evident in her ability to write a memoir by 24 while working as a drilling engineer, creating 2 start-ups and working as a public speaker and presenter on the ABC. 

Abdel-Magied’s authenticity and consistency (Avolio & Gardner 2005) is evident in her online presence.  She is not presenting a different person in public to the one she is in private. Some may disagree with her perspective or choice of words, but she believes what she is saying.

Walumbwa et al. (2008) established a foundational theory of authentic leadership based on four components: self-awareness, internalised moral perspective, balanced processing and relational transparency.  Analysis of these components indicates some areas for improvement.

Abdel-Magied is evidently self-aware and strong in her moral perspectives, where her own deeply held values dictate her behaviour.  This could be called into question following her decision to replace her original ANZAC day post, where she was influenced by the reactions of others.  She’s openly transparent; from discussion about her sense of humour to her spectacle frames, boots, hijabs and clothing choices to her views on unconscious bias, discrimination, violence against women and marriage equality.  

Balanced processing is a skill she could further develop; the ability to reflect and explore others’ opinions before decision-making (Northouse 2016, p. 203).  While she engages and seeks out the opinions of others, she is quick to judgment and rebuttal, particularly of those who are critical of her perspectives.

Recent events have challenged her resilience; going silent on social media, deleting her online presence and personally suggesting that she will be moving to the UK because of the criticism she has faced in Australia.  

Her silence demonstrated a chink in the armour of her confidence, hope and optimism (Luthans & Avolio 2003; Avolio and Gardner 2005; Northouse 2016, p. 204) and doubt of her conviction in her own ability. However she can accomplish self-assigned tasks and reaffirmed her commitment to her goals in June.

Abdel-Magied must develop her perseverance (Luthans & Avolio 2003; Avolio & Gardner 2005)  and staunchly maintain her strong moral values (Northouse 2016, p. 198) as she grows more mature and experienced, all in spite of the inevitable criticism she will endure.

Continued on the next page – Transformational Leadership.