Empowered Women Empower Women
Voice Magazine / Stories / 2023 Winter / Empowered Women Empower Women

Empowered Women Empower Women

Louise Kelly, professor of management and leadership, researches the art of authentic leadership at the University of La Verne.

Authenticity in leadership, now more than ever, is a highly coveted commodity. From political leaders to social media influencers—wherever the spotlight seems to shine the brightest—we are searching for what is true, real, and trustworthy.

Louise Kelly, professor of management and leadership at the University of La Verne, has devoted her time and talents to researching the art of authentic leadership. With many accomplishments under her belt, including authoring seven books with more on the way, the underlying goal in Kelly’s endeavors is to empower diverse leaders who lead according
to their values.

“You lead according to who you are—your values, your personality, your disposition—it’s about creating engagement, creating relationships with people, and you have to do that from who you really are,” she said.

Kelly’s teaching philosophy is focused on co-creating knowledge in the classroom. She intentionally creates space for students to discuss leadership from the perspective of their own values and life experiences. This fosters an atmosphere of inclusiveness in the classroom and encourages students to approach leadership with a more holistic worldview.

In her continued efforts to study diversity and authenticity in leadership, Kelly was challenged with the idea that the model she created to develop authentic leaders was not a one-size-fits-all.

“We know how the traditional white male leads. We know everything about them because our world is defined by who they are, their values, etcetera. But now you’ve got this whole new cadre of leaders coming up—they’re people of color, women, LGBTQ+, cognitively diverse…even socioeconomical status, that’s something we never talk about in the U.S., but it’s huge,” she said.

This discovery helped shift her focus to both Hispanic and women leaders. She found that both groups, because of their values and how they are psychologically hardwired, led with a more inclusive, unified style of leadership. This is vastly different from the more traditional hierarchal, individualistic style of leadership that is typically seen in our world.

Regardless of gender identity or cultural background, authentic diverse leadership comes down to collaboration, community, and being willing to challenge our values, says Kelly. While we draw strength from others and our values are shaped through our communities, we also have to be willing to challenge those ideals in an effort to learn and evolve, she says.

“The essence of education is examining. If you’re not unlearning, then you can’t learn.”

Kelly continues research on empowering women leaders in the Fulbright Specialist Program, a widely recognized and prestigious international project-based exchange program where U.S. faculty and professionals serve as short-term experts at academic and other institutions abroad.