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Effective Executive Magazine:
Authentic Leadership – Personal Values: Impediments and Enhancers
 
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Previous research has shown that if there is no congruence between an individual’s actions and value system, the person may feel stressed or less satisfied in certain areas of life. This research aims to explore the areas affected, and to identify which practices enable South African emerging leaders to live out their values and which act as stumbling blocks. More specifically, the problem addressed is to identify whether, through examining their lived experiences (phenomenological approach), emerging leaders are capable of achieving congruency between their own personal values, and how they work and socially live, with emphasis on authentic leadership in an interdependent world. The research respondents completed a pre-designed ‘values assessment index’ consisting of a Likert scale along 30 ‘values dimensions’. Each respondent had to list their top three values in the workplace and socially, and then qualitatively describe what they were going to do to overcome the stumbling blocks (circumstances impeding the living out of their values), and what they were going to do to further enhance the enablers (the condition which allowed them to already live out their values) for these top-three listed values dimensions.

   
Bardi and Schwartz (2003, pp. 1208-1209) assert that people could possibly “act in accordance with their values even when they do not consciously think about them”. They propose that a likely motivation for this is the need for congruence between one’s values and behaviors. The authors also suggest that “value-consistent action is rewarding; it helps people get what they want”. Whereas Ng et al. (2007, p. 168) state that one should consider that individuals’ sets of value priorities are likely to reveal the trade-offs one makes in order to pursue a particular value at the expense of another. Similarly, Schwartz et al. (2001, p. 521) opine “the pursuit of any value has consequences that may conflict or may be congruent with the pursuit of other values”. Research in the field has shown that “negative and unsettling language was used to describe the experience of struggling between what was right, good and praiseworthy on a personal level, and what was figured to be appropriate and acceptable in terms of organizational or professional expectations” (Frick, 2009, p. 68). Posner (2010, pp. 535-538) proposes that the alignment between individual’s personal values and those of the organization result in positive work attitudes and organizational outcomes. He goes on to argue that, in his research, “the high personal values congruency group expressed significantly more commitment to their organization, felt more personally successful and motivated than the low personal values congruency group”. Frick (2009) states that navigating the grey area between personal morality, professional expectation and organizational obligation is challenging. Lombard et al. (2012, p. 83) indicate that “many individuals commented on the fact that their places of work were a stumbling block to their authenticity”. We notice that, leaders’ values create their beliefs and expectations, which through actioned intent drive their behaviors and action. Discrepancies between espoused values and lived action is perceived by organizational followers, as well as loved ones and friends, as inauthentic (Phiri and April, 2014). So values, in effect, convey what is important to leaders at a particular time and in a particular period in their lives (values are dynamically changing, and are not permanent), what they care about, and critically influence their choices and decisions. Sosik (2005, p. 223) puts forward that “values represent concepts or beliefs about desirable end-states or behaviors that transcend specific situations, guide selection, or evaluation of behavior and events, and are ordered by relative importance”. April and Hill (2000, p. 45) state that, “in the workplace, there appears to be a move away from valuing economic incentives, organizational loyalty and work-related identity and towards valuing more meaningful work”. Luthans and Youssef (2004) suggest that organizations need to invest not only in human and social capital, but also in psychological capital. Muna and Masour (2007, p. 132) urge leaders to try for an ‘integrated life’ that encompasses work, as well as other core values, and stress that effective leaders comprehend that feats in the workplace and a satisfying personal life are not mutually exclusive and can coexist. Nash and Stevenson’s (2004, p. 104) research unearthed four intricate components of enduring success: happiness, achievement, significance and legacy. Kerfoot (2006, p. 595) proposes that authentic leaders have a deep sense of purpose for their leadership. Their activities always reflect their core values. April et al. (2013) claim that authentic leaders see themselves as stewards, consistently and creatively scanning the Volatile, Unpredictable, Complex, Ambiguous (VUCA) environment and exposing themselves to diverse people and diverse information, in order to lead with both competence (functional) and confidence (personal presence/repertoire) in building enduring organizations. Additionally, Lombard et al. (2012, p. 83) indicate that self-knowledge (curiosity, cognitive flexibility, boundary interrogation) is the leading enabler, and that the influence of others is the primary inhibitor towards achieving authenticity for emerging leaders. This view is reinforced by Rego et al. (2012, p. 429) who define authentic leadership as a pattern of leader behavior that draws upon and promotes both positive psychological capacities and a positive ethical climate, to foster greater self-awareness, an internalized moral perspective, balanced processing of information, and relational transparency on the part of leaders working with followers, fostering their positive development. Gardner et al. (2011, p. 1121) describe authenticity as owning one’s personal experiences, including one’s thoughts, emotions, needs, desires, or beliefs. In short, leaders must lead in ways which honor their core values, beliefs, strengths, as well as their weaknesses—knowing what and who to say ‘no’ to in order to stay authentic and energized.
 
 
Effective Executive Journal ,Authentic Leadership , Personal Values,Impediments and Enhancers and Leaving a Legacy (