Authentic Leadership Unlabeled

Demystify overused labels associated with leadership

Gary A. DePaul, PhD (he/him/his)
2 min readNov 27, 2020


I’ve started a new mission: to demystify labels that professionals throw around that become normalized corporate jargon. Authentic leadership is one of those worth examining.

I’ve written about leadership myths and what leadership really means. I’ve even written about how useless all those leadership theories in helping me become a better professional. What I didn’t study in graduate school was authentic leadership.

Authenticity has more to do with being a strong professional than practicing leadership in a particular way.

Of the two words, authentic is more meaningful. Being authentic means that you reflect what you think and feel in what you say and how you act. In the counseling profession, it means having harmony between your thoughts and behaviors. Executives whom I worked with enjoyed telling others that if you talk the talk, then you better walk the walk.

Is authentic leadership meaningful?

Try reading the Wikipedia entry for authentic leadership but substitute the word leader with professional and leadership with professionalship. I did this by copying and pasting the entry…