Surfacing Authentic Leadership: Inspiration from After Life

This paper advocates an innovative approach to help leadership students analyze, capture, and remember the nature of their authentic leadership. This developmental activity was inspired by the Japanese film, Wandâfuru raifu (After Life) (Kore-Eda, Sato, & Shigenobu, 1998), in which the recently deceased are asked to recall and relate a memory that symbolizes all that is important to them. After this memory is replayed to them the recently deceased move on to the afterlife and keep the memory prominent in their minds for eternity. This activity is applied to authentic leadership by asking leadership students to recall their family, personal, and work histories as they relate to their leadership. To bring this activity up to date and into the real world, the students are asked to tell their story directly to a camera in front of a green screen. In postproduction, images related to the students’ stories are keyed in to replace the green screen thereby creating powerful memories of the factors influencing the students’ authentic leadership. This new technique is proposed as an integrative and memorable activity that captures and synthesizes insights from other authentic leadership exercises while focusing on the actionable lessons. Viewing of the film prior to the teaching event offers the additional benefit of creating an atmosphere of quiet contemplation and reflection in students’ minds.