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Leadership and Authenticity

Updated on October 29, 2019

Healthcare Leadership Article

AnnMarie Cumbo

University of Phoenix

Leading with Authenticity in the Health Sector/MHA542

October 29, 2019


Adaptive leadership and authenticity are not far removed from each other. To be adaptive, one must be authentic to their role and to be authentic, one must understand the limitations of their current processes or structures to improve the environment. Taking cues from our past and applying techniques for emotionally intelligent application of a leadership style allows a leader to grow and change with the need of the company and her career.

Healthcare Leadership Article

Leadership, as defined by Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary as: the office or position of a leader; capacity to lead; the act or an instance of leading. (Merriam-Webster 2019). However, the simplicity of the definition does not reflect the complexity of the nature of being a leader. I define leadership in healthcare constant growth and learning to adapt to the ever-changing environment I interact with. It is not enough to direct a team to perform to a standard, leaders must also rise to the challenges and adjust the way we are executing our processes.

A New Leadership Position

In February 2018, I began working in as a Team Leader in Surgical Scheduling for Western New York Urology Associates. At that time, the Team Lead was looking to retire, and I was offered the position because of my experience as an Office Manager at a small medical practice, and my history with the company it seemed a natural fit. Additionally, my experience in my previous positions prepared me for the changes sorely needed in the department.

Changes as a Leader

Change within myself was necessary to learn the requirements for the new position. Previously, managing a small office which relied on me for everything from workflows to maintenance to human resources to patient care meant that I had my hand in every process. Now, my role required that I focus my energy and time in one specific area. Managing a small office which allowed me to essentially do whatever I felt needed to be done and ‘make it happen’ allowed for me to develop my leadership style as a Composer. I was independent and did not necessarily have to work with my colleagues to accomplish my goals. (Reger 2017) Over the past year, I have begun to develop myself as a Pilot: strategic, visionary, and team-based approach. (Reger 2017) I learned that a leadership style is not stagnant, it is fluid and should be adaptable to the situation at hand. At any time, I may have to change my style to something completely different, but the more I know about what the company needs, the better I can adapt.

Changing the Team

I had previously worked in Surgical Scheduling ten years ago. Therefore, a few people on the team already knew me. Because of my longstanding relationship with the company, people whom had not worked with me directly on a previous occasion still new me well enough to recognize me. However, one of the issues that I recognized early on, was not something that the team was comfortable talking about: nothing had changed. The way procedures were booked ten years ago was the way it was done today. There was a clear delineation within the department of the staff who booked local procedures and imaging and the staff who booked cases in which a patient would be given anesthesia. Neither crossed into each other’s worlds. Motivating the team to look at things differently was a challenge because their comfort zone was so well established. However, because the team had such a laundry list of complaints, I was able to start to work with them to not only learn what they were dealing with, but to see if we could find a better way.

Transformational Leadership and Authenticity

Transformational leadership is the act of leading and developing the staff, the company, maintaining personal integrity, and leading the way forward through a shared vision. (Harris & Mayo 2018) An authentic leader maintains their integrity through being transparent, approachable, and a leader who thinks with more than the numbers. Being an authentic leader in my new position means that I have to be honest about the fact that I have to understand the bottom line and our payment models but that I bend a little for the sake of the employees. Therefore, when a process is changed and it is difficult on everyone, it is important that they understand why the process is changing and what the goal is. While being authentic should allow me the opportunity to show some emotion, a developed sense of emotional intelligence helps the team to trust my decisions as being sound and not reactionary.

Development of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence is a key trait found in effective and authentic leaders. Boyatzis’s Theory of Self-Directed Learning as discussed in the book Primal Leadership: The Hidden Driver of Great Performance breaks down into five discoveries one must make in the process: Who Do I Want to Be? Who Am I? My Learning Agenda. Experimenting with New Behavior. Practicing New Behavior. (Goleman, Boyatzis, & McKee 2001) This exercise is one that a leader can always go back to when the journey to self-improvement must begin again.

Benefits of Self-Directed Learning

Constant review and revision of how we see ourselves, what we want to see in ourselves, and what we hope to achieve when we get there allows us to recognize that who we are developing into today was built on who we were when developing five years ago. Practicing new behavior takes time and patience but emotional intelligence depends upon the leader to recognize the need to practice that behavior and to continue to work on it.


Personal growth is vital to career development and growth. Learning to be an authentic leader is sharing the growth experience with my team. They are learning about me while I am learning about them and we are both learning to develop our relationship together. What is important to me is that my team sees that I am accountable to them. When changes need to be made, I have to learn about what is needed, what my team can offer, and the tools we all need to develop. My hope is that they see that my strength is in my willingness to learn and to never assume I know it all so that there is always something more for me to discover and do tomorrow.


Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R., & McKee, A. (2001). Primal Leadership: The Hidden Driver of Great Performance. Harvard Business Review, 79(11), 42–51. Retrieved from 811&site=eds-live&scope=site

Harris, J., & Mayo, P. (2018). Taking a case study approach to assessing alternative leadership models in health care. British Journal of Nursing, 27(11), 608–613.

Merriam-Webster. (2019) Leadership. Retrieved from: on October 28, 2019

Reger, K. W. E. S. B. (2017, September 20). Assessment: What's Your Leadership Style? Retrieved October 21, 2019, from leadership-style.


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