Monday, April 11, 2011

Is Prince Charles an Authentic Leader?

The link above is a video of a speech given by Prince Charles regarding his take on environmental issues such as low carbon prosperity and the world's dependence on oil.  The address was given to the European Parliament, and the near 29 minute speech was a plea for increased accountability and continued progress.  The question remains, however; is Prince Charles an authentic leader?  Prince Charles has been well publicized for his stance on the environment, but is it a serious concern or a celebrity ploy?

There are many different approaches and definitions of authentic leadership, but for the sake of consistency and reference I will only use the developmental approach.  According to the developmental definition of authentic leadership, authentic leaders are nurtured and developed over time.  Generally, a significant and major life event might trigger the call to leadership, and leader behavior is grounded in positive psychological qualities and strong ethics.  In addition, authentic leadership can be identified by four components:  self-awareness, internalized moral perspective, balanced processing, and relational transparency.

Did Prince Charles ever have one of those "trigger moments?"  His life has been chronicled and publicized since day one, and I struggled to find anything that stood out as a "special moment" that could have jump-started his passion for the environment.  Does that mean that he is not authentic?  Absolutely not, as most people's breakthrough moments are internal and have special significance for the individual.  Those moments don't necessarily have to have any significance to spectators, and it is very possible that Prince Charles had that moment without anyone taking notice.  During my research, I did discover that Prince Charles has had a passion for the environment for roughly 30 years, and his life's work seems to back that up.  I can not prove that Prince Charles is an authentic leader from this, but it is impossible to disprove it either.

The first component of authentic leadership is self-awareness, and that refers to one's knowledge of one's character, feelings, motivators, and desires.  Prince Charles certainly has that.  His body of work and most recently his address to the European parliament reveals his knowledge of his position, his passion for his topic, and his clear vision.  The second component is internalized moral perspective, and this refers to someone using their own morals and beliefs to guide their behavior.  Prince Charles clearly believes that creating a better world for future generations is the right thing to do, so he spends his time donating to the cause and delivering addresses geared towards the cause.  In his private life, he owns a sustainable farm and believes in alternative medicine.  His beliefs definitely guide his actions.  The third component is balanced processing, and this refers to an individual's ability to analyze information objectively and seek opinions of other people.  Prince Charles's address mentioned a great deal of research and statistics, and he also spoke on behalf of several prominent experts and organizations, so it would be safe to say that he listens carefully and analyzes the opinions of many people.  The fourth component is relational transparency ,and this refers to being open and honest in regards to one's true feelings and beliefs.  Prince Charles practices relational transparency almost by default, as his life has been chronicled throughout his existence.  Even without that, however, Prince Charles shares his views and beliefs very openly.

After this analysis, I believe that Prince Charles is in fact an authentic leader.  Many of these points were based on speculation however, and a real answer can only be found by delving inside of Prince Charles's psyche.  What do you think?  Is Prince Charles an authentic leader?

-Jonathan Lucento


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