A new theory driven model of authentic leadership

Beddoes-Jones, Fiona

February 2013

Thesis or dissertation

© 2013 Fiona Beddoes-Jones. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

In recent years, the concept of Authentic Leadership has become an important area of interest and study, encompassing, as it does, personal beliefs and values and how they are aligned and lived in one’s everyday leadership experience, (Cooper et al. 2005; Avolio & Gardner, 2005; Luthans & Avolio, 2003). However, whilst the literature surrounding it is ever-increasing, the concept and construct of Authentic Leadership is fragmented; complicated by different theorists’ perspectives and compounded by a lack of empirical research, particularly within the UK, (Gardner et al. 2011).

Based on Novicevic et al.’s (2006) conceptualization, differentiating Authentic Leadership between its psychological and philosophical components, this research presents a new theoretical model of Authentic Leadership. A 4-factor model was developed and empirically tested using a classic psychometric approach, (Nunnally, 1978; Kline, 1979), and a 360° feedback design, as leaders have been shown to over-estimate their self-reported scores compared to subordinate and peer feedback ratings, (Atkins & Wood, 2002).

Critically, the model was developed and tested using real leaders rather than students, who are generally more accessible to researchers, (Lagan, 2007). It is hypothesized that the resulting model and statistical data may therefore have greater validity and applied relevance than other comparative research in the field completed utilizing student populations with little or no, real-world leadership experience. Three UK leadership populations were employed: two business leader samples and, for the validation study, senior serving Royal Air Force officers. A 3-factor model emerged which both simplifies and unifies previous theoretical conceptualisations of Authentic Leadership.

Whilst not a direct part of the research study, the author suggests that potentially, all modern leadership failures may be traced back to a deficiency in any one of these 3 ‘Pillars’ of Authentic Leadership: Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation or Ethics. Implications for Authentic Leadership Development are identified and some suggestions for future research into the field made.

Business School, The University of Hull
Armstrong, Steven J.; Swailes, Stephen
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