The Leadership Quarterly

Authentic leadership: A review of the literature and research agenda
William L. Gardner ⁎, Claudia C. Cogliser, Kelly M. Davis, Matthew P. Dickens
Texas Tech University, USA
a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t
Available online 21 October 2011 The past decade has seen a dramatic increase in scholarly interest in the topic of authentic leadership. We review this literature with the goal of clarifying the state of knowledge in the field. We begin with a historical overview of the construct’s definition and evolution. Next,
we present the results of a content analysis of 91 publications that focus on authentic leadership.
Specifically, we examined the publication type (theoretical, empirical, and practitioner),
contributors (e.g., discipline, nationality, and institutional affiliation), theoretical foundations,
research strategies, sample location/type, data collection methods, analytical procedures, and
nomological network of authentic leadership. We conclude by presenting an agenda for future
research.
© 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Keywords:
Authenticity
Authentic leadership
Content analysis

  1. Introduction
    Spurred by deep-rooted concerns about the ethical conduct of today’s leaders based on chilling examples of corporate and governmentmalfeasance, popular leadership authors such as former Medtronic CEO Bill George (Authentic Leadership, 2003; True North, George & Sims, 2007) and leadership consultant Kevin Cashman (Leadership from the Inside Out, 1998, 2008; Awakening the Leader
    Within, 2003) called for a new type of genuine and values-based leadership — authentic leadership (AL). Sharing these concerns,
    Luthans and Avolio (2003, p. 244) expressed “a need for a theory-driven model identifying the specific construct variables and relationships
    that can guide authentic leader development and suggest researchable propositions”; henceforth they introduced an initial
    model for this purpose. Interdisciplinary summits were hosted in 2004 and 2006 by the Gallup Leadership Institute (GLI) of the
    University of Nebraska-Lincoln with the goal of generating scholarly and practitioner interest in AL development. A subset of papers
    presented at the 2004 Gallup Leadership Summit were published in a special issue of The Leadership Quarterly (2005, Volume 16,
    Issue 3) and an edited book (Gardner, Avolio, & Walumbwa, 2005b), further stimulating interest in the topic.
    The simultaneous proliferation of practitioner and scholarly writings has generated several competing conceptions of AL that
    have created confusion about the construct. Anticipating these problems, Cooper, Scandura, and Schriesheim (2005) articulated
    some of the areas of conceptual ambiguity (e.g., levels of analysis) and cautioned scholars to avoid the pitfalls encountered in advancing
    prior leadership theories by carefully defining, measuring, and rigorously investigating the construct. More recently,
    Yammarino, Dionne, Schriesheim, and Dansereau (2008) examined the literature from a meso, multi-level perspective, noting
    several shortcomings, such as a primarily leader-centric focus operating at the individual level of analysis; they also provide specific
    recommendations for advancing AL theory at and across the individual, dyadic, group, and organizational levels of analysis.
    Unfortunately, the cautions of these authors have often gone unheeded, as the emergence of multiple practitioner and scholarly
    conceptions of AL has created ambiguity about what does and does not constitute AL, as well as the efficacy of strategies for
    its development. These problems are compounded by a limited amount of empirical research, which makes it difficult to assess
    the validity of assertions regarding the positive effects of AL that are commonly advanced by its proponents. Nonetheless, the
    The Leadership Quarterly 22 (2011) 1120–1145
    ⁎ Corresponding author at: Institute for Leadership Research, Rawls College of Business, 15th & Flint, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409, USA. Tel.: +1
    806 742 1055; fax: +1 806 742 2308.
    E-mail address: [email protected] (W.L. Gardner).
    1048-9843/$ – see front matter © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    doi:10.1016/j.leaqua.2011.09.007

scholarly literature has seen a recent upsurge in empirical investigations of AL that show promise for alleviating some of the conceptual
confusion. The purpose of this manuscript is to review the scholarly literature on AL with the goal of clarifying the construct and our knowledge about its antecedents and outcomes. More specifically, we: (1) provide a historical overview of the construct of authenticity;
(2) discuss the underpinnings and milestones in the emergence and refinement of AL theory; (3) describe the content analysis
methodology employed to codify the various theoretical perspectives, research methods, and findings reflected in the literature;
(4) present our findings regarding the underlying theoretical foundations for AL; (5) review the available empirical research on
AL, focusing attention on the measurement of the construct and mapping out the nomological network; and (6) recommend future
directions for the study and practice of AL.

  1. Authenticity and AL defined
    2.1. Authenticity
    Authenticity can be traced back to ancient Greek philosophy and is reflected by the Greek aphorism “Know Thyself”
    which was inscribed in the Temple of Apollo at Delphi (Parke & Wormell, 1956). Indeed, the etymology of the word authentic
    can be traced to the Greek word, authento, “to have full power” (Trilling, 1972), reflecting the notion of authentic
    functioning whereby an individual is “the master of his or her own domain” (Kernis & Goldman, 2006). An early reference
    to authentic functioning is Socrates’ focus on self-inquiry as he argued that an “unexamined” life is not worth living. Aristotle
    followed with a view of ethics that focused on one’s pursuit of the “higher good” achieved through self-realization
    when the activity of the soul is aligned with virtue to produce a complete life (Hutchinson, 1995). Such self-realization is
    tied to one’s well-being or “eudaimonia,” a form of happiness that, in contrast to hedonism which seeks happiness
    and pleasure as desired end states, arises from successfully performing activities that reflect one’s true calling (Kernis &
    Goldman, 2006).
    Harter (2002) describes authenticity as owning one’s personal experiences, including one’s thoughts, emotions,
    needs, desires, or beliefs. Hence, it involves being self-aware and acting in accord with one’s true self by expressing
    what one genuinely thinks and believes (Luthans & Avolio, 2003). While the attainment of complete authenticity is an
    ideal, Erickson (1995) cautions that authenticity should not be conceived as an either/or condition, since people
    are never completely authentic or inauthentic. Thus, it is more realistic to describe a person as being more or less
    authentic.
    The modern conception of the construct emerged in the past 85 years (Erickson, 1995). As Kernis and Goldman (2006, p. 284;
    italics in the original) note, “contemporary psychological views of authenticity owe a great deal of debt to the works of philosophy”
    where “authenticity is loosely set within topics, such as metaphysics or ontology, firmly entrenched in particular movements,
    such as existentialism or phenomenology, and localized to specific authors like Sartre or Heidegger.” While a complete exposition of
    the philosophical basis for modern conceptions of authenticity lies beyond the scope of this review, the interested reader is referred
    to the work of Erickson (1995), Harter (2002), Kernis and Goldman (2006), and Novicevic, Harvey, Buckley, Brown, and
    Evans (2006) for historical overviews of this literature.
    Based on their review of the historical literature, Kernis and Goldman (2006) conclude that it documents a range of mental
    and behavioral processes that explain how people discover and construct a core sense of self, and how this core self is maintained
    across situations and over time. Moreover, they assert that this literature reflects four central themes: “authentic functioning of
    people’s (1) self-understanding, (2) openness to objectively recognizing their ontological realities (e.g., evaluating their desirable
    and undesirable self-aspects), (3) actions, and (4) orientation towards interpersonal relationships” (p. 284). Moreover, these
    themes are consistent with their conceptualization of authenticity as encompassing four key components: (1) awareness (i.e.,
    knowledge and trust in one’s thoughts, feelings, motives and values); (2) unbiased processing (i.e., objectivity about and acceptance
    of one’s positive and negative attributes); (3) behavior (i.e., acting based on one’s true preferences, values, and needs rather
    than merely acting to please others, secure rewards, or avoid punishments); and (4) relational orientation (i.e., achieving and valuing
    truthfulness and openness in one’s close relationships; Kernis, 2003; Kernis & Goldman, 2006). This multi-component conceptualization
    of authenticity, in turn, has provided the theoretical foundation for several theories of AL (Gardner, Avolio, Luthans,
    May, &Walumbwa, 2005; Ilies, Morgeson, & Nahrgang, 2005; Spitzmuller & Ilies, 2010; Walumbwa, Avolio, Gardner, Wernsing, &
    Peterson, 2008) as described below.
    2.2. Definitions of authentic leaders and AL
    A variety of definitions of leader authenticity or AL have been advanced over the years (summarized in Table 1). The earliest
    philosophical conceptions of authenticity within the leadership literature arose in the 1960s and reflected an assumption that an
    organization’s authenticity is manifest through its leadership (Novicevic et al., 2006). This is illustrated well by Rome and Rome’s
    (1967) description of authenticity in a hierarchical organization presented in Table 1. For Halpin and Croft (1966), organizational
    authenticity is posited to be a function of the openness of the organizational climate and is manifest by the degree to which members
    resist personal change when enacting their leadership and professional roles. Finally, Seeman (1966) proposed that the extent
    to which leaders are authentic is a function of their ability to reduce ambivalence about their leadership role

Table 1
Definitions of authentic leaders and authentic leadership.
Source Definition
Rome and Rome (1967, p. 185) “A hierarchical organization, in short, like an individual person, is ‘authentic’ to the extent that,
throughout its leadership, it accepts finitude, uncertainty, and contingency; realizes its capacity for
responsibility and choice; acknowledges guilt and errors; fulfills its creative managerial potential for
flexible planning, growth, and charter or policy formation; and responsibly participates in the wider
community.”
Henderson and Hoy (1983, pp. 67–68) “Leadership authenticity is therefore defined as the extent to which subordinates perceive their leader
to demonstrate the acceptance of organizational and personal responsibility for actions, outcomes,
and mistakes; to be non-manipulating of subordinates; and to exhibit salience of self over role.
Leadership inauthenticity is defined as the extent to which subordinates perceive their leader to be
‘passing the buck’ and blaming others and circumstances for errors and outcomes; to be manipulative
of subordinates; and to be demonstrating a salience of role over self.”
Bhindi and Duignan (1997, p. 119) “In this article the authors argue for authentic leadership based on: authenticity, which entails the
discovery of the authentic self through meaningful relationships within organizational structures
and processes that support core, significant values; intentionality, which implies visionary leadership
that takes its energy and direction from the good intentions of current organizational members who
put their intellects, hearts and souls into shaping a vision for the future; a renewed commitment to
spirituality, which calls for the rediscovery of the spirit within each person and celebration of the
shared meaning, with purpose of relationship; a sensibility to the feelings, aspirations and needs of
others, with special reference to the multicultural settings in which many leaders operate in the light
of the increasing globalizing trends in life and work.”
Begley (2001, p. 353) “Authentic leadership may be thought of as a metaphor for professionally effective, ethically sound,
and consciously reflective practices in educational administration. This is leadership that is
knowledge based, values informed, and skillfully executed.”
George (2003, p. 12) “Authentic leaders use their natural abilities, but they also recognize their shortcomings, and work
hard to overcome them. They lead with purpose, meaning, and values. They build enduring
relationships with people. Others follow them because they know where they stand. They are
consistent and self-disciplined. When their principles are tested, they refuse to compromise. Authentic
leaders are dedicated to developing themselves because they know that becoming a leader
takes a lifetime of personal growth.”
Luthans and Avolio (2003, p. 243) “[W]e define authentic leadership in organizations as a process that draws from both positive
psychological capacities and a highly developed organizational context, which results in both
greater self-awareness and self-regulated positive behaviors on the part of leaders and associates,
fostering positive self-development. The authentic leader is confident, hopeful, optimistic, resilient,
transparent, moral/ethical future-oriented, and gives priority to developing associates into leaders
themselves. The authentic leader does not try to coerce or even rationally persuade associates, but
rather the leader’s authentic values, beliefs, and behaviors serve to model the development of
associates.”
Avolio, Luthans et al. (2004, p. 4) as cited in Avolio,
Gardner et al. (2004, pp. 802, 803)
Authentic leaders are “those individuals who know who they are, what they think and behave and
are perceived by others as being aware of their own and others’ values/moral perspective,
knowledge, and strengths; aware of the context in which they operate; and who are confident,
hopeful, resilient, and of high moral character.”
Begley (2004, p. 5) “Authentic leadership is a function of self-knowledge, sensitivity to the orientations of others, and a
technical sophistication that leads to a synergy of leadership action.”
Ilies et al. (2005, p. 374) “Authentic leaders are deeply aware of their values and beliefs, they are self-confident, genuine, reliable
and trustworthy, and they focus on building followers’ strengths, broadening their thinking
and creating a positive and engaging organizational context.”
Shamir and Eilam (2005, p. 399) “[O]ur definition of authentic leaders implies that authentic leaders can be distinguished from less
authentic or inauthentic leaders by four self-related characteristics: 1) the degree of person role
merger i.e. the salience of the leadership role in their self-concept, 2) the level of self-concept clarity
and the extent to which this clarity centers around strongly held values and convictions, 3) the
extent to which their goals are self-concordant, and 4) the degree to which their behavior is consistent
with their self-concept.”
George and Sims (2007, p. xxxi) Authentic leaders are “genuine people who are true to themselves and to what they believe in. They
engender trust and develop genuine connections with others. Because people trust them, they are
able to motivate others to high levels of performance. Rather than letting the expectations of other
people guide them, they are prepared to be their own person and go their own way. As they develop
as authentic leaders, they are more concerned about serving others than they are about their own
success or recognition.”
Walumbwa et al. (2008, p. 94) “[W]e define authentic leadership as a pattern of leader behavior that draws upon and promotes both
positive psychological capacities and a positive ethical climate, to foster greater self-awareness, an
internalized moral perspective, balanced processing of information, and relational transparency on
the part of leaders working with followers, fostering positive self-development.”
Whitehead (2009, p. 850) “In this article, a definition of an authentic leader is adopted as one who: (1) is self-aware, humble,
always seeking improvement, aware of those being led and looks out for the welfare of others;
(2) fosters high degrees of trust by building an ethical and moral framework; and (3) is committed
to organizational success within the construct of social values.”

The first attempt to formally define and operationalize the constructs of leadership authenticity and leadership inauthenticity
per se was made by Henderson and Hoy (1983). As Table 1 indicates, these authors view leadership authenticity as encompassing
three components: (1) acceptance of personal and organizational responsibility for actions, outcomes and mistakes; (2) the nonmanipulation
of subordinates; and (3) the salience of the self over role requirements. Leadership inauthenticity involves low
levels of these components, i.e., a lack of accountability, manipulation of subordinates, and salience of role over self. Although
the components overlap somewhat with the dimensions of authenticity proposed by Kernis and Goldman (2006), they also appear
to be confounded with other constructs such as abusive supervision (Tepper, 2007), organizational politics (Ferris & Kacmar,
1995) and accountability (Hall, Blass, Ferris, & Massengale, 2004). Of the three dimensions proposed, salience of self over role
comes closest to the philosophy-based conception of authenticity, as it “refers to the tendency to behave in a genuine manner
relatively unconstrained by traditional role requirements. Such a person is viewed as being real and authentic” (Henderson &
Hoy, 1983, p. 66).
Fourteen years elapsed before AL reemerged as a focus of interest within the social sciences, again within the field of education
(Begley, 2001, 2004, 2006; Bhindi & Duignan, 1997; Duignan & Bhindi, 1997). As Table 1 indicates, Bhindi and Duignan (1997)
defined AL as being composed of four components: authenticity, intentionality, spirituality, and sensibility. Begley (2001) introduced
an alternative perspective that is both broad in scope and narrow in context, as it equates AL with effective and ethical
leadership and is confined to the context of education administration (see Table 1). He argued that “[a]uthentic leadership implies
a genuine kind of leadership — a hopeful, open-ended, visionary and creative response to circumstances” (p. 354). Hence, Begley’s
AL view encompasses some components (e.g., hopefulness; Luthans & Avolio, 2003) that are shared by subsequent definitions.
Moreover, his later definition (Begley, 2004, p. 5; see Table 1) recognizes the importance of self-knowledge, a quality central to
most conceptions of authenticity (Kernis & Goldman, 2006) and AL (e.g., Gardner, Avolio, Luthans et al., 2005; George, 2003;
Ilies et al., 2005; Ladkin & Taylor, 2010; Luthans & Avolio, 2003; Shamir & Eilam, 2005; Sparrowe, 2005).
As noted earlier, George’s books (George, 2003; George & Sims, 2007) have contributed greatly to the emergence of both practitioner
and scholarly interest in AL. Given his practitioner background, it is not surprising to see that his definitions of authentic
leaders and AL are primarily descriptive (see Table 1). Nevertheless, they do an excellent job of vividly capturing popular conceptions
that reflect many of the central components of scholarly definitions. For George, the five dimensions of AL are: (1) pursuing
purpose with passion; (2) practicing solid values; (3) leading with heart; (4) establishing enduring relationships; and (5) demonstrating
self-discipline. While the language is different, several of these align well with the components of authenticity that
were identified by Kernis and Goldman (Kernis, 2003; Kernis & Goldman, 2006). For example, establishing enduring relationships
is consistent with a relational orientation, and practicing solid values coincides with authentic behavior.
The work that has been most instrumental in reigniting scholarly interest in AL is Luthans and Avolio’s (2003) conceptualization
of AL and its development. As these authors explain, the theoretical underpinnings of their AL model include positive organizational
behavior (POB) (Luthans, 2002), transformational/full-range leadership (Avolio, 1999), and ethical perspective-taking
(Kegan, 1982). Because of this confluence of perspectives, their definition of AL (see Table 1) includes POB states such as confidence,
hope, optimism, and resilience that later became the basis for Luthans, Avolio, Avey, and Norman’s (2007) psychological
capital (PsyCap) construct. This is also true of Avolio, Luthans, and Walumbwa’s (2004) refined definition [as cited in Avolio,
Gardner, Walumbwa, Luthans, and May (2004)] (see Table 1). As a consequence, the distinction between AL, psychological capital,
and transformational leadership, is not clear from these definitions, raising early concerns about discriminant validity
(Cooper et al., 2005). However, these definitions also encompass the core components of self-awareness, positive selfregulation,
positive self-development, and/or a positive moral perspective that are often reflected, either explicitly or implicitly,
in prior and subsequent conceptions of AL.
Through their research agenda, GLI associates Bruce Avolio, William Gardner, Fred Luthans, Doug May, Fred Walumbwa, and
their colleagues worked on a more refined definition of AL (Avolio & Gardner, 2005; Gardner et al., 2005b). This research program
yielded a model of AL development (Gardner, Avolio, Luthans et al., 2005) that is grounded in Kernis’ (2003) multi-component
conception of authenticity. As a testament to the scientific process, Ilies and colleagues (2005) independently developed a
model of AL (see Table 1 for their definition) that is likewise based on Kernis’ perspective, and thereby reinforced the utility of
this framework. The GLI research program culminated with the definition of AL advanced by Walumbwa et al. (2008). As the definition
presented in Table 1 indicates, this perspective identifies four primary components of AL – self-awareness, balanced processing,
relational transparency, and an internalized moral perspective – that are based on the awareness, unbiased processing,
relational orientation, and behavior/action components described by Kernis and Goldman (2006).
Some refinements were made to the four components to reflect both conceptual and empirical insights about their composition.
Specifically, the unbiased processing component was renamed balanced processing (Gardner, Avolio, Luthans et al., 2005)
out of recognition that all humans are inherently biased and flawed processors of information, particularly regarding selfrelevant
information (Tice &Wallace, 2003). The behavior/action component was renamed internalized moral perspective to better
reflect the leader’s commitment to core ethical values. Additionally, two dimensions of AL – internalized regulation and a positive
moral perspective – that had previously been posited to be conceptually distinct (Gardner, Avolio, Luthans et al., 2005), were
combined to form the internalized moral perspective component. The rationale for combining these is based on a content analysis
of open-ended descriptions by GLI doctoral students of a person they deemed to be an authentic leader. The results revealed that
these dimensions could not be reliably distinguished because both involve the display of behavior that is consistent with internal
standards and values (Walumbwa et al., 2008, p. 97). The four-component model of AL was subsequently operationalized and
validated by Walumbwa and colleagues (Walumbwa et al., 2008) through the Authentic Leadership Questionnaire (ALQ; to be
discussed further below).

Table 1 includes Shamir and Eilam’s (2005) definitions of the terms authentic leader and AL, which reflect an alternative to the
perspectives based on Kernis and Goldman’s (2006) conceptions of authenticity. Specifically, Shamir and Eilam (2005) propose a
life stories approach to the development of authentic leaders. In defining the authentic leader construct, they apply the dictionary
description of the word authentic as “original,” “genuine,” and “not fake” to identify a set of four defining characteristics. First,
“authentic leaders do not fake their leadership” (p. 396). Instead, they lead as an expression of their “true” and “real” self. Second,
they lead from conviction in pursuit of a value-based mission or cause. Third, “[a]uthentic leaders are originals, not copies” (p. 397)
who are driven by deeply rooted values that they experience to be true, not values imposed by others. Finally, because they take action
based on their values and convictions, there is consistency between what they say and do. Shamir and Eilam (2005) also note that their
conception of authentic leaders says nothing about the content of the leader’s values, in contrast to other definitions that include considerations
of morality.
Shamir and Eilam’s (2005, p. 398) definition rests on leaders’ self-concepts and the relationships between their self-concepts
and behaviors. They describe authentic leaders as those who possess high degrees of person–role merger (i.e., the leadership role
is salient in their self-concept), self-concept clarity, self-congruence, and behavioral consistency. They define AL as a process that
includes not only the authentic leader, but also encompasses authentic followership, as followers choose to follow the leader for
genuine reasons to form an authentic relationship. Finally, in advancing their life stories approach to AL development, they describe
how leaders’ life stories can produce insight into the meanings they attach to key life events and which, over time, facilitate
positive self-development through reflection.
Other notable alternatives to those based in Kernis and Goldman’s (2006) conception of authenticity include: Sparrowe’s
(2005) application of hermeneutic philosophy to describe the narrative process whereby the leader’s authentic self develops;
Michie and Gooty’s (2005) exploration of the role that self-transcendent values and positive other-directed emotions play in
the development of AL; Eagly’s (2005) application of role incongruity theory to explain why incongruities between gender role
and leader role requirements sometimes make it difficult for women to achieve authenticity as leaders; and Ladkin and Taylor’s
(2010, p. 64) consideration of the “ways in which a somatic sense of self contributes to the felt sense of authenticity, and how
through engaging with somatic cues, leadership can be performed in a way which is experienced as authentic, both to the leader
and to those he or she seeks to lead.” Finally, Whitehead (2009) recently introduced a definition of AL that includes three components:
(1) self-awareness, other awareness, and a developmental focus; (2) the creation of high levels of trust built on a firm
ethical and moral framework; and (3) commitment to organizational success grounded in social values (see Table 1). While the
content and labels for these dimensions differ somewhat from earlier definitions, there is also clear overlap. We consider these
alternative perspectives in more detail below as part of our content analysis of the AL literature.

  1. Content analysis of AL publications
    3.1. Sample
    To identify publications for inclusion in our review, we searched EBSCO/Host databases using specific keywords linked to AL
    such as “authentic leadership” and “authenticity” paired with “leader”, “follower”, or “leadership.” We also issued a call for papers
    through the Academy of Management’s LDRNet and used a snowball approach by searching the references of relevant publications
    to further identify those for inclusion in the review. As with any extensive search, these attempts yielded additional publications,
    such as those that discuss only authenticity or leadership. Therefore, we established guidelines for relevancy and accuracy
    purposes. For a publication to be included in this review, it had to discuss authenticity in leaders and/or followers. Articles that did
    not meet these criteria were eliminated from the dataset. We also made a decision to focus on scholarly publications, with the
    cut-off date of December 31, 2010. Any conference papers, dissertations, and working papers, as well as most practitioner publications,
    were removed from the collection. The final sample included 91 AL publications.
    Our rationale for limiting our review to publications stemmed from a belief that conference papers, working papers, and dissertations
    have not been subjected to the peer review process and may not be fully developed and/or based on sound theory and
    empirical methods. Accordingly, including theory or findings generated from these works in our review could potentially undermine
    the development of the field. Our rationale for excluding practitioner publications is based on the recognition that they
    serve a different purpose (sharing leadership insights with practicing managers) from scholarly publications, which seek to advance
    knowledge in the field. Given our interest in assessing the evolution of the field, we concentrate our attention on scholarly
    work. However, we did make some exceptions for practitioner publications (e.g., May, Chan, Hodges, & Avolio, 2003) that were
    repeatedly identified by scholars as having influenced their thinking about AL.
    3.2. Coding scheme
    To conduct our content analysis, we applied many of the methods described by Gardner, Lowe, Moss, Mahoney, and Cogliser
    (2010) in their recent content analysis of articles published in The Leadership Quarterly during the journal’s second decade. For
    each article at least three members of the author team recorded: (1) author names, disciplines, institutional affiliation, type of affiliation
    (academic, consultant, or practitioner) and country of affiliation at the time of publication; (2) theoretical paradigm (positivist,
    interpretive, critical); (3) theoretical foundations of AL; (4) foundational citations for AL; (5) the purpose of the article
    (develop new theory, extend/link current theory, contradict current theory, or summarize/review existing theory); and (6) whether

or not AL was central to the article. For theoretical articles,we recorded research questions, propositions, and any models included in
the article.


For empirical qualitative articles, we developed an original classification scheme based on Lee’s (1999) descriptions of qualitative
methods to code: (1) the research methodology; (2) if the data were recorded and/or transcribed; (3) interview type (if
interview methods were employed); (4) data analysis techniques; and (5) whether or not credibility, transferability, or dependability
were discussed. For empirical quantitative articles, we again followed Gardner and colleagues’ (2010) example and applied
a classification scheme developed by Scandura and Williams (2000) to code: (1) study hypotheses; (2) research strategy; (3)
sample location and type; (4) data collection methods; (5) operationalization of AL; (6) how AL was modeled (as an independent
variable, dependent variable, moderator, or mediator); and (7) the analytic methods employed.
Once the coding was completed, we conducted reliability checks of the recorded data. The initial inter-rater percent agreement
values for subjectively coded categories were 76% for research strategy, 76% for research tradition, 80% for theoretical purpose,
80% for theoretical foundations, and 84% for AL centrality. All authors participated in the reconciliation of coding
discrepancies through discussion and consensus, resulting in 100% inter-rater agreement. Finally, the data for each article was
summarized by five time periods and aggregated for a summation across time periods. Our findings are presented in the following
sections.
3.3. Type of authentic leadership publications over time
We coded the type of publications into three primary types: theoretical, empirical, and practitioner. Although our interest centers
on scholarly publications that fall within the first two categories, there are several practitioner-oriented publications by AL
scholars (Avolio &Wernsing, 2008; Champy, 2009; Gardner & Schermerhorn, 2004; George, Sims, McLean, & Mayer, 2007; Goffee
& Jones, 2005; Hannah, 2007; May et al., 2003) that surfaced through our literature search. While we excluded these practitioner
works from further content analyses that focused on the development and empirical evaluation of AL theory, we retained them
in our data-base because they: 1) serve as a rough (but incomplete, due to the exclusion of practitioner books) benchmark for
practitioner interest in AL; 2) were identified through our content analysis of scholarly articles as foundational publications
(George et al., 2007; Goffee & Jones, 2005; May et al., 2003); and/or 3) communicate findings from the scholarly literature to practitioner
audiences (Avolio & Wernsing, 2008; Gardner & Schermerhorn, 2004; Hannah, 2007).
A graphical depiction of the number of theoretical, empirical, and practitioner publications focused on AL is presented in Fig. 1.
A complementary summary of publication type across time that also distinguishes between journal articles and book chapters is
presented in Table 2. The earliest publications on AL by Henderson and Hoy (1983); Hoy and Henderson, 1983) focused on the
definition and operationalization of a measure of leader authenticity. Following their work, there was a lull in interest in the
topic until Bhindi and Duignan (1997) and Begley (2001) reintroduced AL to the education literature, and Bass and Steidlmeier
(1999) made the distinction between authentic and pseudo-transformational leadership which inspired subsequent distinctions
between more versus less authentic leadership.
Stimulated by the publication of George’s Authentic Leadership and Luthans and Avolio’s call for scholarly research in 2003, the
ensuing years saw a sharp increase in activity. As Fig. 1 indicates, three additional theoretical articles (Avolio, Gardner et al., 2004;
Begley, 2004; Zhu, May, & Avolio, 2004) and one practitioner article (Gardner & Schermerhorn, 2004) were published in 2004.
Further stimulation was provided by the 2004 Gallup Leadership Summit, which produced a 2005 spike of 24 publications that

Publication type by time period for authentic leadership publications.
Publication type Time period
Pre-2003 2003–2004 2005–2006 2007–2008 2009–2010 Total
Theoretical
Journal articles 4 4 14 11 8 41
Book chapters 0 1 13 2 2 18
Total 4 5 27 13 10 59
Empirical
Journal articles 3 0 2 5 13 23
Book chapters 0 0 2 0 0 2
Total 3 0 4 5 13 25
Practitioner
Journal articles 0 2 1 1 1 5
Book chapters 0 0 0 2 0 2
Total 0 2 1 3 1 7
Grand total 7 7 32 21 24 91

focused on theory development, many of which appeared in a special issue of The Leadership Quarterly (Volume 16, Issue 3) and
Elsevier’s Monographs in Leadership and Ethics series (Gardner et al., 2005b). This latter outlet accounted for the majority (14 publications)
of the refereed book chapters devoted to the construct. The year 2005 is also noteworthy for the appearance of two publications
that offer empirical findings (Eigel & Kuhnert, 2005; Pittinsky & Tyson, 2005), which represented the first since
Henderson and Hoy’s (1983) and Hoy & Henderson (1983) articles. Although 2005 represents the watershed for AL scholarship,
the ensuing years have seen a steady stream of theoretical (four to seven per year) and empirical (two to eight per year) publications,
with empirical publications (eight) exceeding the number of conceptual publications (four) in 2010 for the first time.
Thus, there is evidence that activity in the field may be shifting from a primary emphasis on theory generation to theory testing.
A framework for interpreting the progression of AL research is provided by Reichers and Schneider’s (1990) three-stagemodel for
the evolution of constructs. We draw upon this framework and the work of Hunt (1999) and other scholars (Cogliser & Brigham,
2004; Gardner et al., 2010) who used it to examine the field of leadership in general and various approaches or domains within
the field. The three stages are: (1) concept introduction and elaboration; (2) concept evaluation and augmentation; and (3) concept
consolidation and accommodation.
The first stage involves efforts to legitimize the construct and inform others through publications about the newly developed
or newly borrowed construct. Preliminary findings are presented as evidence that the construct is genuine. During the second
stage critical reviews emerge that identify problems related to the definition and operationalization of the construct. Concerns
about the validity of empirical findings are raised, and in response mediators and moderators are introduced to clarify the processes
underlying the phenomenon. In the final stage a few generally accepted definitions emerge, meta-analytic studies are conducted,
and the construct appears as a moderator and mediator in more general models within the field.
Using this model as a lens for interpreting the data presented in Fig. 1 and Tables 1 and 2, the research on AL appears to fall
within the first stage. Although a variety of AL definitions have been introduced, no one generally agreed-upon definition exists.
In addition, the majority of the scholarly publications seek to develop or extend theory, rather than to test it through empirical
research. The presence of an uptick in empirical research in 2010 and the emergence of a few critical reviews (Cooper et al.,
2005; Yammarino et al., 2008) suggest some initial movement toward the second stage. Moreover, the adoption of authentic leadership
as a foundational theory for a new model of responsible leadership introduced by Higham, Freathy, and Wegerif (2010)
further testifies to the maturation of the construct.
3.4. Author attributes
To learn more about the authors who publish on AL, we examined their affiliations and biographical sketches for the publications
included in our review to identify the total number of authors credited, their country of affiliation, discipline, and type (academic,
consulting, practitioner). A summary of author attributes by publication period is provided in Table 3.
3.4.1. Number of author credits
The number of authors represents the total number of author credits identified, rather than the number of unique authors. Because
many authors published multiple articles/book sections, they were included in the count for each of the publications attributed
to them. Table 3 reveals that the number of author credits increased from 12 prior to 2003, to 18 in 2003–2004, and spiked at
73 in 2005–2006, before declining but leveling off at a reduced but comparative high level of activity (49 to 51) in the ensuing
time periods. These findings are consistent with the preceding analysis of AL that revealed 2005 as the watershed year for
work in the area that stimulated an elevated level of research activity thereafter.

Table 3
Author country, discipline, and type by publication period.
Time period
Pre-2003 2003–2004 2005–2006 2007–2008 2009–2010 Total
Number of authors 12 18 73 49 51 203
Author countries
Australia 4 0 2 1 2 9
Canada 1 0 1 4 10 16
China 0 0 0 0 1 1
Finland 0 0 0 2 0 2
France 0 0 1 0 0 1
Israel 0 0 2 0 0 2
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 1 1
Pakistan 0 0 0 1 0 1
Singapore 0 0 0 4 2 6
Spain 0 0 0 0 1 1
Switzerland 0 0 0 3 0 3
Trinidad and Tobago 0 0 0 0 1 1
United Kingdom 0 0 1 1 5 7
United States 7 18 66 33 28 152
Author discipline
Business 0 0 1 13 4 18
Education 9 1 1 2 4 17
Management 2 16 60 27 27 132
Psychology 0 0 3 2 1 6
Other 1 1 8 5 15 30
Author type
Academic 12 18 70 48 48 196
Consulting 0 0 1 0 3 4
Practitioner 0 0 2 1 0 3

3.4.2. Author country, affiliation, and type
Table 3 also reveals that most authors have academic affiliations (196; 96.6%), identify with the management (132; 65%), business
in general (18; 8.9%), or education (17; 8.4%) disciplines, and reside in the United States (152; 74.8%) or Canada (16; 7.9%).
The overrepresentation of academic authors is not surprising given our decision to focus on scholarly work in the area. However,
the high proportion of North American scholars with management, business, or educational training raises some concerns, particularly
given that the construct of authenticity has deep roots in other disciplines (e.g., philosophy, art, psychology, sociology)
and European and Asian cultures (Erickson, 1995; Harter, 2002; Novicevic et al., 2006). These findings suggest that work by
scholars with more diverse disciplinary and cultural backgrounds might facilitate the application of alternative theoretical perspectives
for understanding how AL is manifest within and across cultures.
Table 4
Publication purpose, authentic leadership centrality, and theoretical foundations by publication period.
Time period
Pre-2003 2003–2004 2005–2006 2007–2008 2009–2010 Total
Publication purpose
Develop new theory 4 1 2 1 1 9
Extend/link theory 3 4 27 15 19 68
Contradict/critique theory 0 1 1 0 1 4
Review/summarize 0 1 2 4 3 10
Is AL central?
Yes 5 4 24 15 18 66
No 2 3 8 6 6 25
Theoretical foundation
Authentic leadership theory 0 4 31 20 23 78
Authenticity/self/identity 4 2 9 7 8 30
Affective processes 0 0 3 1 1 5
Attribution theory/social perception 0 0 3 1 0 4
Ethics/values/ethical leadership 3 5 6 3 1 18
Neo-charismatic leadership 1 2 2 0 3 8
Positive psychology/POB/POSa 0 2 4 2 5 13
Well-being/vital engagement 0 0 3 0 5 8
Other/not applicable 1 0 4 2 2 9
a POB = Positive Organizational Behavior; POS = Positive Organizational Scholarship

3.5. Publication purpose and AL centrality
3.5.1. Publication purpose
To learn more about the purposes and centrality of AL to the focus of the publications identified, we coded these variables
across time periods (see Table 4). The results revealed that the primary purpose for AL research is to extend and link theory
(68; 75.7%), a finding that is consistent with the notion that the field is in the first stage of Reichers and Schneider’s (1990)
model — concept introduction and elaboration. The small number (nine; 9.8%) of publications that develop new theory is not surprising
given the difficulty of generating original conceptual frameworks. Sample publications from the “develop new theory” category
for each time period include Henderson and Hoy (1983), Luthans and Avolio (2003), Shamir and Eilam (2005), Hansen,
Ropo, and Sauer (2007) and Liu (2010). The first three of these each played important roles in articulating the AL construct, as
reflected by the inclusion of their definitions in Table 1. The Hansen and colleagues (2007) article draws from AL theory and addresses
issues of leader authenticity, but its primary purpose is to develop a theory of aesthetic leadership. Although it is too early
to assess the impact of Liu’s (2010) article, her application of discourse analysis to generate a typology of leaders’ failures and the
framing strategies they employ to construct and negotiate images of leadership style, effectiveness, and authenticity provides an
original lens for viewing leader authenticity. Moreover, the emergence of a limited number of critiques (Cooper et al., 2005; Price,
2003; Shaw, 2010; Yammarino et al., 2008), and the increasing number of reviews/summaries (Avolio, 2010; Avolio, Walumbwa,
&Weber, 2009; Avolio &Wernsing, 2008; Champy, 2009; Gardner, Avolio, & Walumbwa, 2005a; Gardner & Schermerhorn, 2004;
George et al., 2007; Goffee & Jones, 2005; Hannah, 2007; Toor, Ofori, & Arain, 2007) reinforces our conclusion that the field may be
taking some initial steps into the second stage of construct development — concept evaluation and argumentation (Reichers &
Schneider, 1990).
3.5.2. Centrality of AL
A summary of publications that focused on AL as the central construct of interest is also provided in Table 4. Across time periods,
AL has served as the primary focus for approximately three-quarters of the publications. This finding suggests that, befitting
its first stage status, AL is not often invoked as a peripheral construct, such as a mediating or moderating variable within the context
of a broader theory, as would be the case in Reichers and Schneider’s (1990) third stage of construct development, concept
consolidation and accommodation.
3.6. Theoretical foundations
As part of our content analysis, each coder recorded the primary theoretical foundations they viewed as underlying the discussion
of AL through an open-ended, qualitative coding process (Lee, 1999). The theories identified were subsequently grouped into
nine categories through a data reduction process. These categories are: (1) AL theory; (2) authenticity/self/identity; (3) affective
processes; (4) attribution theory/social perception; (5) ethics/values/ethical leadership; (6) neo-charismatic leadership theories;
(7) positive psychology/positive organizational behavior (POB)/positive organizational scholarship (POS); (8) well-being/vital
engagement, and (9) other/not applicable. Next, these categories were used to code the theoretical foundations underlying
each publication. Table 4 includes a summary of the results across time periods and Table 5 presents a summary of the citations
Table 5
Foundational citations.
Citation Number of times identified as foundation
Gardner, Avolio, Luthans et al. (2005) 44
Luthans and Avolio (2003) 43
Avolio and Gardner (2005) 33
Avolio, Gardner, et al., 2004 32
Bass and Steidlmeier (1999) 23
George (2003) 19
May et al. (2003) 19
Ilies et al. (2005) 17
Harter (2002) 15
Shamir and Eilam (2005) 13
Kernis (2003) 11
Avolio, Luthans, et al., 2004 10
Burns (1978) 9
Erickson (1995) 9
Luthans (2002a,b) 9
Walumbwa et al. (2008) 9
Avolio and Luthans (2006) 8
Deci and Ryan (1995) 6
Avolio (2005) 5
Bass (1985) 5
Markus and Wurf (1987) 5
87 additional articles b5

most frequently identified by one or more coders as a theoretical foundation for the publication reviewed. We provide a more
detailed discussion of these below.
3.6.1. AL theory
Theories focused on AL and/or AL development per se, as opposed to authenticity in general, or theories that provided the conceptual
underpinnings for AL theory, were grouped into this category. These include the perspectives previously examined during
our discussion of the AL definitions presented in Table 1. Hence many of the publications that advanced or extended initial models
of AL fall within this category (e.g., Avolio, 2005; Avolio & Gardner, 2005; Avolio & Luthans, 2006; Avolio, Gardner et al., 2004;
Bass & Steidlmeier, 1999; Bhindi & Duignan, 1997; Duignan & Bhindi, 1997; Gardner, Avolio, Luthans et al., 2005; George,
2003; Ilies et al., 2005; Luthans & Avolio, 2003; May et al., 2003; Shamir & Eilam, 2005; Walumbwa et al., 2008); not surprisingly,
they are also well represented among foundational citations in Table 5. An examination of Table 4 reveals that while the majority
(31) of publications that built upon AL theory appeared during the fertile 2005–2006 time period, work in the area continues to
draw upon these theories as the field matures.
3.6.2. Authenticity/self/identity
Given that the construct of authenticity lies at the core of AL theory (Luthans & Avolio, 2003), theories of the self, identity, and
authenticity (Leary & Tangney, 2003), have played a key role in the development of the field. As Table 4 indicates, such theories
are second only to AL theory (78) with regard to the number of times (30) they were coded as providing foundational support.
Indeed, the influence of these perspectives has remained constant across time periods.
Many of the AL publications (Avolio, Gardner et al., 2004; Gardner, Avolio, Luthans et al., 2005; Ilies et al., 2005; Luthans &
Avolio, 2003; Shamir & Eilam, 2005) identified as foundational in Table 5 advanced models that incorporate self-based constructs
(e.g., self-awareness, self-regulation, self-knowledge, self-esteem, self-verification, self-concept clarity, self-certainty, selfdetermination,
self-congruence, self-consistency, self-concordance, self-expression) and identification processes described by social
psychologists (Leary & Tangney, 2003). In addition, reflections on authenticity from other disciplines including hermeneutic
philosophy (Ricoeur, 1976), aesthetics (Baumgarten, 1750; reprinted in 1936), acting (Stanislavski, 1936), and management history
(Barnard, 1938, 1948), respectively, inspired the novel perspectives of AL advanced by Sparrowe (2005), Hansen and associates
(2007), Ladkin and Taylor (2010), and Novicevic, Davis, Dorn, Buckley, and Brown (2005). Given the diverse conceptions of
self, identity and authenticity available, we anticipate that theorists will continue to draw from a rich array of disciplines to generate
new and intriguing perspectives on AL.
3.6.3. Affective processes
Foundational theories subsumed under this category include affective events theory (Weiss & Cropanzano, 1996), Ashkanasy’s
(2003) multi-level theory of emotions, Oakley’s (1993) theory of morality and emotions, theories of emotional intelligence (Goleman,
1995; Mayer, Caruso, & Salovey, 1999) and emotional labor (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993; Grandey, 2000; Hochschild, 1983). To date,
AL scholars have applied these affective process theories to clarify how: (1) followers’ attributions of AL elicit positive and negative emotional
reactions (Dasborough & Ashkanasy, 2005); (2) positive other-directed emotions motivate authentic leaders to act on selftranscendent
universal and benevolent values and exhibit self-transcendent behavior (Michie &Gooty, 2005); (3) emotional intelligence
fosters self-awareness and thereby contributes to the development of AL (Klenke, 2005); and (4) display rules inherent to the leadership
role exert pressures on leaders to engage in emotional labor thatmay compromise their quest for authenticity (Gardner, Fischer, & Hunt,
2009;Hunt, Gardner, & Fischer, 2008). Although three out of five of these publications appeared during the 2005–2006 time period, they
have yet to generate subsequent theoretical or empirical work. Nonetheless, given the importance of emotions to the experience, perception,
and expression of authenticity (Harter, 2002; Hochschild, 1983), we consider further explorations of the affective processes underlying
authentic leader–follower relationships to be crucial for the advancement of the field.
3.6.4. Attribution theory/social perception
Foundational theories grouped into this category include attribution theory (Heider, 1958; Kelley, 1973; Martinko, Harvey, &
Douglas, 2007) and theories of social (e.g., Kenny, 1991) and leader (Lord & Emrich, 2000; Meindl, Ehrlich, & Dukerich, 1985) perception.
Only four AL publications were identified as building uponmodels of attribution (Avolio &Walumbwa, 2006; Dasborough &
Ashkanasy, 2005; Harvey, Martinko, & Gardner, 2006) and social perception (Fields, 2007) (see Table 4). Representative of the former
is Harvey and colleagues’ (2006) use of attribution theory to explain how an accurate and balanced attribution style can facilitate AL
and howorganizations can foster its development by heightening awareness of factors which promote inaccurate attributions. Fields
(2007) applied Kenny’s (1991)Weighted AverageModel of social perception to explain howthe attributes and actions of a leader and
aspects of the situation impact how much followers agree that a leader exhibits authenticity and integrity. Despite the modest use of
these theories to date, they possess promise for clarifying the influence of attribution and perceptual processes on the creation of authentic
leader–follower relationships.
3.6.5. Ethics/values/ethical leadership
There has been some disagreement within the AL literature about the inclusion of ethics as a core component. While there is a consensus
that staying true to one’s values is important, Shamir and Eilam (2005) purposely avoided saying anything about the ethical content
of the leader’s values. In contrast, Avolio and Gardner (2005) argued that the construct is inherently moral, and Walumbwa and
colleagues’ (2008) operationalized an internalized moral perspective as a basic component of AL. On balance, it appears that much of

“the literature strongly connects authentic leadership with moral leadership” (Ladkin & Taylor, 2010, p. 65). This helps to explain why
theories of ethics (e.g., Hutchinson, 1995; Kegan, 1982; Kohlberg, 1984), values (e.g., Oakley, 1993; Schwartz, 1992), ethical leadership
(e.g., Brown & Trevino, 2006) and spiritual leadership (e.g., Fry, 2003, 2005) have exerted an important influence on the development of
the field. Although Table 4 reveals that a relatively high number (18) of publications use ethical or values-based frameworks, thenumber
has declined in recent years. Perhaps this trend is attributable to the explicit inclusion of an ethical component inmost conceptions of AL,
which precludes the need to reference the more foundationalwork as AL theory becomes further developed. Nonetheless, given the richness
of ethical theory and the insights available from ongoing work on ethical leadership (Brown & Trevino, 2006), spiritual leadership
(Fry &Whittington, 2005), andmoral development (Ambrose, Arnaud, & Schminke, 2008),we encourage AL scholars to continue to explore
the implications of these perspectives.
3.6.6. Neo-charismatic leadership
The term neo-charismatic leadership approaches was coined by House and Aditya (1997) to describe a newly emergent leadership
paradigm that encompasses theories of charismatic, transformational, and visionary leadership. As previously noted, Bass and
Steidlmeier’s (1999) discussion of authentic transformational leadership served as a stimulus for interest in the construct of AL. Similarly,
Luthans and Avolio (2003) readily acknowledged the influence of transformational leadership on their conception of AL. As
the field has matured, sharper distinctions between authentic and transformational leadership have been drawn. For example,
Avolio and Gardner (2005) describe AL as a root construct that serves as the basis for all forms of positive leadership. They go on
to assert that AL “can incorporate transformational, charismatic, servant, spiritual or other forms of leadership. However, in contrast
to transformational leadership in particular, authentic leadership may ormay not be charismatic” (p. 329). Furthermore, Walumbwa
and colleagues (2008) demonstrated that the ALQ accounts for variance beyond measures of transformational (Multifactor Leadership
Questionnaire, MLQ, Form 5x; Bass & Avolio, 1993) and ethical leadership (Brown, Trevino, & Harrison, 2005), thereby providing
evidence for the discriminant validity of the AL construct. As such, perhaps it is not surprising that relatively few (eight) AL
publications identify neo-charismatic leadership theories as foundational, despite the early association of the constructs.
An example of a recent article that explicitly specifies transformational leadership as foundational is Spitzmuller and Ilies
(2010) empirical examination of the relationship between a leader’s relational authenticity and follower assessments of transformational
leadership. They posited that a strong relational orientation by an authentic leader would foster open and trusting leader–
follower relationships, follower identification with the leader, and attributions of leader integrity, yielding elevated
perceptions of individualized consideration, idealized influence, and inspirational motivation — three core components of transformational
leadership. To test their hypotheses, Spitzmuller and Ilies administered Goldman and Kernis’s (2001) Authenticity
Inventory as a measure of leader authenticity to 91 mid-level managers and the MLQ to 379 of their subordinates (4.17 per manager).
As predicted, more as opposed to less relationally authentic leaders were rated as more transformational and produced
greater convergence in followers’ perceptions of transformational behavior. However, other components of leader authenticity,
such as behavioral authenticity, were unrelated to transformational leadership.
Overall, these findings indicate that while relational transparency on the part of an authentic leader serves to elicit perceptions
of transformational leadership, these constructs are nonetheless conceptually distinct. Moreover, they suggest that additional research
that clarifies the relationships between transformational leadership, as well as charismatic, visionary and other forms of
neo-charismatic leadership, is warranted.
3.6.7. Positive psychology/POB/POS
As noted earlier, Luthans and Avolio (2003) were inspired, in part, by the emergence of positive psychology (Harter, 2002;
Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000), POB (Luthans, 2002) and POS (Cameron, Dutton, & Quinn, 2003). Indeed, they originally included
the POB states of confidence, optimism, hope and resilience identified by Luthans (2002) as qualities of the authentic leader.
Subsequent conceptions of the construct view these POB states as separate, but related constructs (Avolio & Gardner, 2005;
Gardner et al., 2005a). The POB states that Luthans and associates (2007) later renamed psychological capital (PsyCap) continue
to provide a theoretical foundation for AL research. Table 4 indicates that 13 publications identify POB, POS or PsyCap as foundational
constructs, with interest in the relationships between these states and AL increasing over time (Avolio, Griffith, Wernsing, &
Walumbwa, 2010; Brown & Gardner, 2007; Clapp-Smith, Vogelgesang, & Avey, 2009; Jensen & Luthans, 2006b; Klenke, 2005;
Kolditz & Brazil, 2005; Macik-Frey, Quick, & Cooper, 2009; Shirey, 2009; Wong & Cummings, 2009a; Yammarino et al., 2008;
Youssef & Luthans, 2005).
Representative of this work is Clapp-Smith and colleagues’ (2009) investigation of the relationships between AL, trust in management,
PsyCap, and performance at the group level using a sample of retail clothing stores. The results revealed that trust in
management mediated the relationship between PsyCap and performance, and partially mediated the relationship between AL
and performance. Promising findings such as these demonstrate the relevance of PsyCap to AL and the utility of exploring the
effects of both constructs on trust and performance. We join Avolio and colleagues (Avolio, Gardner et al., 2004; Avolio et al.,
2010; Gardner et al., 2005a) in advocating further research into the interactive effects of AL, PsyCap, positive ethical climates,
trust, identification processes, and follower work attitudes on the attainment of veritable and sustained follower and organizational
performance.
3.6.8. Well-being/vital engagement
During the peak of theory generation in 2005, three influential perspectives (see Table 5) were advanced by Gardner, Avolio,
Luthans et al. (2005), Ilies and colleagues (2005), and Shamir and Eilam (2005), each of which identified follower and leader well

being and engagement as outcomes of AL. The reason for this confluence is that these scholars each recognized the documented
relationships between authenticity, engagement, and well-being (Deci & Ryan, 1995; Kernis, 2003; Kernis & Goldman, 2006). As
Table 4 indicates, five recent publications (Gardner et al., 2009; Giallonardo, Wong, & Iwasiw, 2010; Macik-Frey et al., 2009;
Walumbwa, Wang, Wang, Schaubroeck, & Avolio, 2010; Wong & Cummings, 2009a) have built on the work of these and other
scholars in exploring the relationships between AL and leader and/or follower engagement, empowerment and well-being.
Representative of this work is Walumbwa and associates’ (2010) recent study of the direct and indirect effects of AL on followers’
work engagement and organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs). Using a sample of managers and their direct reports,
they showed that AL elicits elevated levels of follower work engagement and OCB, and that these relationships were mediated by
feelings of empowerment and identification with the supervisor, as posited by foundational AL models (Gardner, Avolio, Luthans
et al., 2005; Ilies et al., 2005; Shamir & Eilam, 2005). Given both the theoretical and practical importance of work engagement and
employee well-being, we encourage research on the positive effects of AL on these and related outcomes (e.g., job satisfaction,
organizational commitment, and employee and organizational performance).
3.6.9. Other theoretical foundations/not applicable
This category encompasses theoretical foundations for AL research that were not subsumed by any of the preceding categories.
As Table 4 indicates, nine publications identified theoretical foundations that fell into this category, one of which was classified as
“not applicable” because it used an inductive, qualitative methodology that was not grounded in established theory (Dillon,
2001). The foundational theories that were grouped into the “other” category, along with the AL publications associated with
these theories include: (1) social cognitive theory (Chan, Hannah, & Gardner, 2005); (2) political leadership (Pittinsky & Tyson,
2005); (3) political skill (Douglas, Ferris, & Perrewe, 2005); (4) role incongruity theory (Eagly, 2005); (5) strategy making (Liedtka,
2008); (6) organizational learning (Crossan, Lane, &White, 1999); (7)method acting (Ladkin & Taylor, 2010), and (8) positive health
(Macik-Frey et al., 2009). As a group, these publications demonstrate the utility of applying diverse theoretical frameworks to the
study of AL to gain novel insights into the process.
3.7. Research methods employed in empirical AL articles
Due to the nascent nature of AL research, only 25 empirical publications were identified through our literature search. To
provide an assessment of the types of methods adopted by AL researchers, we distinguished between qualitative and quantitative
studies to identify the research strategies employed across time periods. Table 6 presents a summary of the results.
As the table indicates, nine and 16 studies, respectively, employed qualitative methods and quantitative methods. This represents
a relatively high percentage (36%) of qualitative studies compared to the low amount (12.2%) identified by Glynn
and Raffaelli (2010) in a recent content analysis of leadership publications appearing in three top tier journals (Academy of
Management Journal, Administrative Science Quarterly, and Organization Science) and one special journal (The Leadership
Quarterly, LQ) over the past 50 years (1957–2007). It also compares favorably with the percentage (24.1%) identified by
Gardner and colleagues (2010) in their recent review of articles published in LQ during the journal’s second decade. In contrast,
an earlier review of LQ’s first decade of research (Lowe & Gardner, 2000) reported a higher amount of qualitative studies
(39%). Perhaps the shift in the numbers of qualitative versus quantitative studies published in LQ reflects a maturation of
the leadership field, as many researchers favor the use of qualitative methods to generate new theories and quantitative
methods to test existing theories (Edmondson & McManus, 2007). This explanation may also account for the relatively
high percentage of qualitative studies of AL, given that the construct appears to be in Reichers and Schneider’s (1990) first
stage of development.
3.7.1. Qualitative research
For the qualitative studies, we coded the method of data collection (focus group, case study, interview, narrative, and participant
observation), country where the research was conducted, data analysis techniques (meaning condensation, meaning categories,
and ad hoc methods), and whether issues of credibility, transferability, or dependability were discussed (Lee, 1999). The
results, summarized in Table 6, indicate that no particular form of data collection method was favored, as focus groups (Pittinsky
& Tyson, 2005), case studies (Bissessar, 2010; Branson, 2007; Dillon, 2001), interviews (Dillon, 2001; Endrissat, Muller, &
Kaudela-Baum, 2007; Higham et al., 2010; Shirey, 2009), narrative analysis (Liu, 2010; Roche, 2010), and participant observation
(Higham et al., 2010) were all employed. In addition, the research was conducted in a wide range of settings, from Trinidad and
Tobago to Australia and New Zealand.
With respect to data analytic techniques (Lee, 1999), some studies focused on abstracting the most important themes from the
data through meaning condensation (Dillon, 2001; Endrissat et al., 2007; Higham et al., 2010; Roche, 2010), others used meaning
categorization methods to group the data into quantifiable categories (Dillon, 2001; Liu, 2010; Pittinsky & Tyson, 2005; Shirey,
2009), and still others employed ad hoc methods (Bissessar, 2010; Branson, 2007). Only two studies (Dillon, 2001; Endrissat
et al., 2007) addressed the issue of data credibility, as recommended by Lee (1999). Thus, while we commend scholars who
have applied qualitative methods to explore AL for the breadth of methods adopted, we encourage researchers to devote greater
attention to assessing the credibility, transferability, and dependability of their findings.

Table 6
Summary of research methods employed in empirical publications by time period.
Time period
Pre-2003 2003–2004 2005–2006 2007–2008 2009–2010 Total
Publication type
Qualitative 1 0 1 2 5 9
Quantitative 2 0 3 3 8 16
Qualitative publications
Method of data collection
Focus group 1 1
Case study 1 1 1 3
Interview 1 2 3
Narrative 2 2
Participant observation 1 1
Country of study
Australia 1 1 2
New Zealand 1 1
Switzerland 1 1
Trinidad and Tobago 1 1
United States 1 1 1 3
Not reported 1 1
Data analysis techniques
Meaning condensation 1 1 2 4
Meaning categories 1 1 2 4
Ad hoc methods 1 1 2
Credibility/transferability/dependability 1 1 2
Quantitative publications
Research strategy
Field study-primary 2 3 3 6 14
Field study-secondary 1 1
Interview 1 1
Survey 2 2 3 8 15
Scale development 1 1 2
Sample type
Private/for profit 2 2 4
Public/government 2 1 3
Student 2 2 4
Mixed 1 1 2
Not reported 3 3
Country of study
Canada 3 3
China 1 1 2
Singapore 1 1
United States 2 2 1 3 8
Not reported 1 2 3
Mixed (multiple countries) 1 1
Time frame
Cross-sectional 2 3 1 6 12
Longitudinal 2 2 4
Reliability estimates provided? 2 3 2 6 13
Construct validity assessment
Confirmatory factor analysis 1 2 3
Exploratory factor analysis 1 2 1 4
Discriminant validity 1 1
Interrater reliability 1 1
Level of analysis for dependent variable
Individual 1 3 2 7 13
Organization 2 2 4
N/A 1 1
Analyses
Analysis of variance 2 2
Linear regression 1 3 4
Content analysis 1 1
Correlation 2 3 2 6 13
Nonparametric techniques 1 1
Factoring 1 2 2 2 7
SEM/path analysis 1 3 4
Multi-level methods (HLM, WABA) 1 1 2 4

3.7.2. Quantitative research
We coded the quantitative studies with respect to the research strategy, sample type, country where the study was conducted,

authenticity, follower manipulation, and the context-specific nature of the items may explain why this measure was not used extensively
and interest in AL waned after its introduction.
With the reemergence of scholarly interest in AL following Luthans and Avolio’s (2003) call for research, investigators have
sought to operationalize the construct using alternatives to the LAI. A summary of the construct labels, conceptual definitions,
and the operationalized dimensions and measures developed is provided in Table 7. Of the available measures, the ALQ, which
is grounded in Avolio, Gardner, Luthans, May, Walumbwa and colleagues (Avolio & Gardner, 2005; Gardner, Avolio, Luthans
et al., 2005; Walumbwa et al., 2008) perspective of AL, which is in turn derived from Kernis and Goldman’s (2006) multicomponent
conception of authenticity, is the most frequently used measure of AL (used in four publications and multiple samples).
While psychometric support for Kernis and Goldman’s (2005, 2006) Authenticity Inventory (AI: 3) is also available, this instrument
is designed to measure individual authenticity, as opposed to AL.
Prior to the availability of the ALQ, researchers were faced with a dilemma when attempting to operationalize AL.
Jensen and Luthans (2006a,b) did so by summing scores of selected items from the MLQ (Form 5X; Bass & Avolio, 1993),
ENTRESCALE (Entrepreneurial Orientation; Knight, 1997); and Ethical Climate Scale (ECQ; Victor & Cullen, 1988). Wong
and Cummings (2009b) used seven items from the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI; Kouzes & Posner, 2003) to operationalize
seven posited dimensions of AL, an approach that is troubling due to the limitations of single item scales. More generally,
the adoption of items from existing scales as proxies for AL is problematic since these instruments were developed to
operationalize constructs that may overlap conceptually with AL, but are nevertheless distinct. Tate (2008) avoided this
shortcoming by creating an original measure of AL based on George’s (2003) conception of the construct. However, concerns
about this measure pertain to its theoretical underpinnings, given George’s (2003) practitioner focus, and the lack of validation
evidence.
The development of standardized and validated measures of authenticity and AL partially accounts for the upswing
in empirical research, as the majority of recent studies have employed either the AI: 3 (Spitzmuller & Ilies, 2010; Toor
& Ofori, 2009) or the ALQ (Clapp-Smith et al., 2009; Giallonardo et al., 2010; Walumbwa et al., 2010; Wong, Spence
Laschinger, & Cummings, 2010) to operationalize AL. We anticipate that access to these instruments will further stimulate
empirical investigations of AL and its development. Evidence of such stimulation is provided by the submission of nearly
600 inquiries to review the ALQ, which is made available at no cost to researchers at http://www.mindgarden.com/
products/alq.htm. Based on an analysis of the abstracts submitted along with the request to use the ALQ, there are at
least several hundred or more ongoing research studies examining AL (B. Avolio, personal communication, January 24,
2011). Still, further psychometric assessments and possible refinements of the AI: 3 and ALQ along the lines demonstrated
by Schriesheimand Cogliser (2010) for the LMX-7 Scale (Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995), is encouraged. Additionally, alternative operationalizations
of the authenticity and AL constructs to facilitate triangulation (Neuman, 2002), is merited. Finally, research that
examines the relationships between such measures would provide insight into the interplay between individual authenticity
and AL.
3.8. Mapping the nomological net for AL
An essential facet of the process of theory development is the establishment of the construct validity of the focal constructs of
interest (Reichers & Schneider, 1990). Cronbach and Meehl (1955) assert that to provide evidence of construct validity, the nomological
network for one’s measures must be developed. This network includes the theoretical framework that specifies the
focal constructs, the empirical framework that delineates how these constructs are operationalized, and the specification of the
linkages between and among these constructs.
To explicate the nomological network for AL, we provide a summary of the constructs that have been posited to be antecedents
and outcomes of AL in quantitative studies, as well as the degree of support obtained for the hypothesized relationships, in
Table 8. At the outset, several limitations of the literature reviewed to establish this nomological network should be noted. First,
we excluded studies that employed qualitative methods because such studies typically adopted inductive processes that do not
posit a priori hypotheses or assess the strength of the relationships identified. Second, while our review of the theoretical publications
revealed that authentic leadership has been conceptualized as an independent (nine times), dependent (five times), mediating
(four times) and moderating (three times) variable, empirical investigations of the construct have predominately viewed
it as an independent or a mediating variable. Indeed, none of the quantitative studies posited that AL serves as a moderator, and
only one examined AL as the dependent variable. Hence, only constructs that are hypothesized to serve as antecedents and outcomes
of AL are presented in Table 8. Third, given the cross-sectional, non-experimental designs that dominant the extant literature,
it is impossible to draw causal inferences about the relationships identified. Therefore, our use of the terms independent
and dependent variable, as well as antecedents and outcomes, is potentially misleading, since the research designs employed
in most cases simply identified variables that are significantly correlated with AL. Nonetheless, we based our conclusions about
whether a particular variable served as an antecedent or outcome of AL on the nature of the relationship posited by the authors,
even if the research methods adopted preclude causal conclusions. Fourth, given the nascent state of AL research, we summarize
the posited relationships advanced in empirical articles and the degree of support obtained, without consistently assessing the
quality of the research upon which such conclusions are based. In light of the limitations of the empirical research previously described
in Sections 3.7.2 and 3.7.3, such findings should be considered tentative until they can be replicated using more sophisticated
and diverse research designs.


time frame (cross-sectional versus longitudinal), provision of reliability estimates, assessment of construct validity, level of analysis
for the dependent variable, and method of statistical analysis. To code the research strategy, we adopted a categorization
scheme developed by Scandura and Williams (2000) which includes the following categories: sample survey, lab experiment, experimental
simulation, field study-primary, field study-secondary, field experiment, judgment task, computer simulation, and
content analysis. Surprisingly, 15 of the 16 studies used a field study methodology, with 14 of these collecting primary data
and one collecting secondary data. Another surprise was that 15 of 16 used survey methods and one used interviews. Thus, mirroring
Scandura and Williams (2000) findings, one recommendation for future AL research is to use a wider array of methods.
With respect to sample type, a balanced mixture of private/for profit (e.g., Clapp-Smith et al., 2009), public/government (e.g.,
Hoy & Henderson, 1983), student (e.g., Tate, 2008) and mixed samples (e.g., Walumbwa et al., 2008) was revealed. In comparison
to other social science disciplines that have been criticized for overreliance on student samples (Gordon, Slade, & Schmitt, 1986),
the predominance of field samples composed of working adults is a strength of AL research. While most (8) of the quantitative
studies were conducted in the United States, three used Canadian samples (e.g., Giallonardo et al., 2010), two used Chinese samples
(e.g., Walumbwa et al., 2010), one used a sample from Singapore (Toor & Ofori, 2009), one used multiple country samples
(Walumbwa et al., 2008), and three did not report the sample location (Brown & Gardner, 2007; Eigel & Kuhnert, 2005; Tate,
2008).
As is the case for leadership research in general (Gardner et al., 2010), most (12) of the quantitative studies employed crosssectional
designs; only four used longitudinal designs (Clapp-Smith et al., 2009; Roche, 2010; Tate, 2008; Walumbwa et al., 2008).
Accordingly, we echo the calls for more longitudinal designs that are often made by leadership scholars (e.g., Hunt, 2004). Moreover,
the heavy reliance on cross-sectional designs and survey measures raises concerns about the susceptibility of the available
research to common method bias (Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Lee, & Podsakoff, 2003; Podsakoff & Organ, 1986). On a positive note, all
13 of the studies that used surveys reported reliabilities for the instruments administered.
Nine of the 16 quantitative studies reported some form of construct validity assessment, with exploratory factor analysis being
used most often (four studies), followed by confirmatory factor analysis (three studies), inter-rater reliability (one study), and
discriminant validity (one study) assessments. Given that the field is at an early stage in the operationalization of AL measures,
it is disconcerting that greater attention is not devoted to assessing the validity of these measures. One exception is the
Walumbwa et al. (2008) study, which used multiple samples obtained from China, Kenya and the United States to perform multiple
confirmatory factor analyses to assess the discriminant validity of the ALQ relative to existing measures of transformational
(MLQ, Form 5X: Bass & Avolio, 1993) and ethical leadership (ELQ; Brown & Trevino, 2006). Still, further assessment of the ALQ’s
construct validity is needed, as well as alternative (e.g., experimental, implicit measures) approaches to operationalizing the
construct.
Most (13) of the studies were conducted at the individual level of analysis, with four (Clapp-Smith et al., 2009; Henderson
& Hoy, 1983; Hoy & Henderson, 1983; Roche, 2010) focused on the organizational level. The absence of research at the group
level is somewhat surprising, given the posited effects of authentic leadership on group processes (Avolio & Gardner, 2005;
Gardner, Avolio, Luthans et al., 2005). This result reinforces an earlier finding of Yammarino et al. (2008) that most AL research
focuses on the individual level of analysis. Accordingly, we join in their call and that of others (Cooper et al., 2005)
for greater conceptualization and empirical attention to the operation of AL at, and across, the group and organizational levels
of analysis.
Finally, our coding of the methods of statistical analysis employed revealed that simple correlations were used most often (13
studies), followed by factor analytical techniques (seven studies), multi-level methods (e.g., HLM, WABA; four studies), linear regression
(four studies), structural equations methods/path analysis (four studies), analysis of variance (two studies), content analysis
(one study) and nonparametric techniques (one study). An examination of methods across time periods reveals that more
sophisticated tools (e.g., analysis of variance, HLM/WABA, linear regression) have been adopted in recent years. This finding provides
additional evidence that the field is maturing, and perhaps taking initial steps toward stage two of Reichers and Schneider’s (1990)
model, concept evaluation and augmentation.
3.7.3. AL measures
As noted in our historical review, the first attempt to operationalize leader authenticity was made by Henderson and Hoy
(1983). Although Seeman (1966), Halpin and Croft (1966), and Brumbaugh (1971) had previously examined the constructs of
authenticity and inauthenticity in organizations, including their implications for and manifestation through leadership, Halpin
and Croft used subscales of the Organizational Climate Descriptive Questionnaire (OCDQ) to serve as proxy measures of individual
(via the thrust scale) and organizational (via the esprit scale) authenticity, whereas Seeman and Brumbaugh used Seeman’s Ambivalence
Toward Leadership Ideology (Inauthenticity) Scale to assess the inauthenticity of leaders.
Henderson and Hoy (1983) developed a 32-item scale, the Leader Authenticity Inventory (LAI), as a tool for measuring each of
the three components of leader authenticity they proposed. Using teachers and principals from elementary schools, limited support
for the validity of the scale was provided by the positive correlations with the thrust and esprit scales of the OCDQ, as
predicted. Nevertheless, an examination of the scale’s items (e.g., “The principal is obsessed with rules”; “The principal never
talks to teachers about personal concerns”; “The principal usually has teachers do things to make the principal look good”) raises
concerns about its construct validity and generalizability. Specifically, the focus on perceived as opposed to felt leader

authenticity, follower manipulation, and the context-specific nature of the items may explain why this measure was not used extensively
and interest in AL waned after its introduction.

Table 7
Summary of conceptual definitions and measures of authentic leadership used in quantitative empirical articles.
Study and construct label Reported conceptual definition Operationalized dimensionality and measure used
Henderson and Hoy (1983)
Leader Authenticity “The extent to which subordinates perceive their leader to demonstrate the
acceptance of organizational and personal responsibility for actions, outcomes,
and mistakes; to be non-manipulating of subordinates; and to exhibit salience of
self over role. Leadership inauthenticity is defined as the extent to which subordinates
perceive their leader to be ‘passing the buck’ and blaming others and
circumstances for errors and outcomes; to be manipulative of subordinates;
and to be demonstrating a salience of role over self” (Henderson & Hoy, 1983,
pp. 67–68)
Leader Authenticity Scale (LAS, developed for this study); 32 items
Hoy and Henderson (1983)
Leader Authenticity “The extent to which subordinates described their leader as accepting
responsibility for actions, as being non-manipulating, and as demonstrating a
salience of self over role. In contrast, the inauthentic leader was viewed as one
who ‘passes the buck,’ blames others and circumstances for his/her errors, manipulates
and uses subordinates, and is engulfed in the bureaucratic role requirements
of the position” (p. 124; adapted from Henderson & Hoy, 1983).
Leader Authenticity Scale (LAS, Henderson & Hoy, 1983); 32 items
Eigel and Kuhnert (2005)
Leadership Development Level As leaders move from lower to higher LDLs [Leadership Development Level],
there is a transition in the knowing self realm (intrapersonal) from an externally
defined understanding of self to an internally defined understanding of self, in
the knowing others realm (interpersonal) from self-focus to other-focus, and in
the knowing our world realm (cognitive) from simplicity to complexity…. The
highest LDLs exhibit … a more authentic way to lead (p. 361).
Leadership Development Level semi-structured interview (no citation provided);
interview coded into 20 scores (five distinctions for each of the four LDLs)
Jensen and Luthans (2006a)
Authentic Leadership “A process that draws from both positive psychological capacities and a highly
developed organizational context, which results in both greater self-awareness
and self-regulated positive behavior on the part of leaders and employees, fostering
positive self-development. The authentic leader is confident, hopeful, optimistic,
resilient, transparent, moral/ethical, future-oriented, and gives priority
to developing employees to be leaders” (p. 647; from Luthans & Avolio, 2003,
p. 243).
Authentic Leadership (Jensen & Luthans, 2006b); summed scores from the
following 3 measures: 30 items from the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire
(MLQ, Form 5X; Bass & Avolio, 1993); 8 items from the ENTRESCALE
(Entrepreneurial Orientation; Knight (1997); and 7 items from the caring and
reverse-scored items of the Ethical Climate Questionnaire (ECQ; Victor & Cullen,
1988)
Jensen and Luthans (2006b)
Authentic Entrepreneurial Leadership “An authentic leader is one who is not only true to him/herself, but behaves in
such a way that followers are also able to gain self-awareness and psychological
strength” (p. 256; adapted from Luthans & Avolio, 2003). “An authentic leader
knows him/herself, and acts in accordance with those beliefs, creating a futureoriented
ethical, follower-building climate” (p. 263; Avolio, Gardner et al., 2004;
Avolio, Luthans et al., 2004; Luthans & Avolio, 2003).
Authentic Leadership (Jensen & Luthans, 2006b); summed scores from the
following 3 measures: 30 items from the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire
(MLQ, Form 5X; Bass & Avolio, 1993); 8 items from the ENTRESCALE
(Entrepreneurial Orientation; Knight (1997); and 7 items from the caring and
reverse-scored items of the Ethical Climate Questionnaire (ECQ; Victor & Cullen,
1988)
Brown and Gardner (2007)
Authentic Leadership “A process that draws from both positive psychological capabilities and a highly
developed organizational context, which results in both greater self-awareness
and self-regulated positive behaviors on the part of both leaders and associates,
fostering positive self development” (p. 56, from Luthans & Avolio, p. 243).
Examined the positive role modeling component of the authentic leadership
process (Gardner, Avolio, Luthans et al., 2005) including leader integrity through
structured and open-ended questions.
Tate (2008)
Authentic Leadership “…a form of leadership concerned with developing positive leader–follower
relationships (May et al., 2003), high moral standards, and integrity (Avolio,
Gardner et al., 2004)” (p. 18). Authentic leadership measure was based on
George’s (2003) five dimensions of authentic leadership: demonstrating self-
Authentic Leadership (developed for this study). 17 items based on George’s
(2003) conceptual dimensions of authentic leadership. Three subscales: selfdiscipline
and ethical standards (9 items), establishing positive relationships (4
items), and passion for purpose (4 items). 17 items summed to form composite


With the reemergence of scholarly interest in AL following Luthans and Avolio’s (2003) call for research, investigators have
sought to operationalize the construct using alternatives to the LAI. A summary of the construct labels, conceptual definitions,
and the operationalized dimensions and measures developed is provided in Table 7. Of the available measures, the ALQ, which
is grounded in Avolio, Gardner, Luthans, May, Walumbwa and colleagues (Avolio & Gardner, 2005; Gardner, Avolio, Luthans
et al., 2005; Walumbwa et al., 2008) perspective of AL, which is in turn derived from Kernis and Goldman’s (2006) multicomponent
conception of authenticity, is the most frequently used measure of AL (used in four publications and multiple samples).
While psychometric support for Kernis and Goldman’s (2005, 2006) Authenticity Inventory (AI: 3) is also available, this instrument
is designed to measure individual authenticity, as opposed to AL.
Prior to the availability of the ALQ, researchers were faced with a dilemma when attempting to operationalize AL.
Jensen and Luthans (2006a,b) did so by summing scores of selected items from the MLQ (Form 5X; Bass & Avolio, 1993),
ENTRESCALE (Entrepreneurial Orientation; Knight, 1997); and Ethical Climate Scale (ECQ; Victor & Cullen, 1988). Wong
and Cummings (2009b) used seven items from the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI; Kouzes & Posner, 2003) to operationalize
seven posited dimensions of AL, an approach that is troubling due to the limitations of single item scales. More generally,
the adoption of items from existing scales as proxies for AL is problematic since these instruments were developed to
operationalize constructs that may overlap conceptually with AL, but are nevertheless distinct. Tate (2008) avoided this
shortcoming by creating an original measure of AL based on George’s (2003) conception of the construct. However, concerns
about this measure pertain to its theoretical underpinnings, given George’s (2003) practitioner focus, and the lack of validation
evidence.
The development of standardized and validated measures of authenticity and AL partially accounts for the upswing
in empirical research, as the majority of recent studies have employed either the AI: 3 (Spitzmuller & Ilies, 2010; Toor
& Ofori, 2009) or the ALQ (Clapp-Smith et al., 2009; Giallonardo et al., 2010; Walumbwa et al., 2010; Wong, Spence
Laschinger, & Cummings, 2010) to operationalize AL. We anticipate that access to these instruments will further stimulate
empirical investigations of AL and its development. Evidence of such stimulation is provided by the submission of nearly
600 inquiries to review the ALQ, which is made available at no cost to researchers at http://www.mindgarden.com/
products/alq.htm. Based on an analysis of the abstracts submitted along with the request to use the ALQ, there are at
least several hundred or more ongoing research studies examining AL (B. Avolio, personal communication, January 24,
2011). Still, further psychometric assessments and possible refinements of the AI: 3 and ALQ along the lines demonstrated
by Schriesheimand Cogliser (2010) for the LMX-7 Scale (Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995), is encouraged. Additionally, alternative operationalizations
of the authenticity and AL constructs to facilitate triangulation (Neuman, 2002), is merited. Finally, research that
examines the relationships between such measures would provide insight into the interplay between individual authenticity
and AL.
3.8. Mapping the nomological net for AL
An essential facet of the process of theory development is the establishment of the construct validity of the focal constructs of
interest (Reichers & Schneider, 1990). Cronbach and Meehl (1955) assert that to provide evidence of construct validity, the nomological
network for one’s measures must be developed. This network includes the theoretical framework that specifies the
focal constructs, the empirical framework that delineates how these constructs are operationalized, and the specification of the
linkages between and among these constructs.
To explicate the nomological network for AL, we provide a summary of the constructs that have been posited to be antecedents
and outcomes of AL in quantitative studies, as well as the degree of support obtained for the hypothesized relationships, in
Table 8. At the outset, several limitations of the literature reviewed to establish this nomological network should be noted. First,
we excluded studies that employed qualitative methods because such studies typically adopted inductive processes that do not
posit a priori hypotheses or assess the strength of the relationships identified. Second, while our review of the theoretical publications
revealed that authentic leadership has been conceptualized as an independent (nine times), dependent (five times), mediating
(four times) and moderating (three times) variable, empirical investigations of the construct have predominately viewed
it as an independent or a mediating variable. Indeed, none of the quantitative studies posited that AL serves as a moderator, and
only one examined AL as the dependent variable. Hence, only constructs that are hypothesized to serve as antecedents and outcomes
of AL are presented in Table 8. Third, given the cross-sectional, non-experimental designs that dominant the extant literature,
it is impossible to draw causal inferences about the relationships identified. Therefore, our use of the terms independent
and dependent variable, as well as antecedents and outcomes, is potentially misleading, since the research designs employed
in most cases simply identified variables that are significantly correlated with AL. Nonetheless, we based our conclusions about
whether a particular variable served as an antecedent or outcome of AL on the nature of the relationship posited by the authors,
even if the research methods adopted preclude causal conclusions. Fourth, given the nascent state of AL research, we summarize
the posited relationships advanced in empirical articles and the degree of support obtained, without consistently assessing the
quality of the research upon which such conclusions are based. In light of the limitations of the empirical research previously described
in Sections 3.7.2 and 3.7.3, such findings should be considered tentative until they can be replicated using more sophisticated
and diverse research designs.

Table 7 (continued)
Study and construct label Reported conceptual definition Operationalized dimensionality and measure used
discipline, leading with heart, establishing enduring relationships, practicing
solid values, and passion for purpose.
Walumbwa et al. (2008)
Authentic Leadership “[A] pattern of leader behavior that draws upon and promotes both positive
psychological capacities and a positive ethical climate, to foster greater selfawareness,
an internalized moral perspective, balanced processing of information,
and relational transparency on the part of leaders working with followers,
fostering positive self-development” (p. 94)
Authentic Leadership Questionnaire (ALQ; developed for this study). 16 items. 4
subscales: self-awareness (4 items), relational transparency (5 items), internalized
moral perspective (4 items), and balanced processing (3 items). Four dimensions
formed a higher-order Authentic Leadership factor.
Clapp-Smith et al. (2009)
Authentic Leadership “A process by which leaders are deeply aware of how they think and behave, of
the context in which they operate, and are perceived by others as being aware of
their own and others’ values/moral perspectives, knowledge, and strengths” (p.
229; adapted from Avolio, Gardner et al., 2004; Avolio, Luthans et al., 2004)
ALQ (Walumbwa et al., 2008). 16 items. 4 subscales: self-awareness (4 items),
relational transparency (5 items), internalized moral perspective (4 items), and
balanced processing (3 items). 16 items summed to form composite authentic
leadership score.
Toor and Ofori (2009)
Authentic Leadership “[A] pattern of leader behavior that draws upon and promotes both positive
psychological capacities and a positive ethical climate, to foster greater selfawareness,
an internalized moral perspective, balanced processing of information,
and relational transparency on the part of leaders working with followers,
fostering positive self-development” (p. 301, from Walumbwa et al., 2008, p. 94).
The 45-item Authenticity Inventory or AI:3 (Kernis & Goldman, 2005, 2006) 4
subscales: self-awareness (12 items), unbiased processing (10 items), behavior
(11 items), and relational orientation (12 items). Summed to form composite
authenticity score.
Wong & Cummings (2009a, 2009b)
Authentic Leadership Authentic leadership is “a process that draws from both positive psychological
capacities and a highly developed organizational context, which results in both
greater self-awareness and self-regulated positive behaviors on the part of
leaders and associates, fostering positive self-development” (p. 7, from Avolio &
Gardner, 2005, p. 321).
Single items reflecting 7 leadership behaviors (self-awareness, relational
transparency, balanced processing, ethical behavior, trustworthiness,
supportiveness, and empowering) selected from the Leadership Practices
Inventory (LPI; Kouzes & Posner, 2003). Items used as single indicators for the
latent leadership concepts in a structural equations modeling (SEM) analysis.
Giallonardo et al. (2010)
Authentic Leadership “A process that ‘draws from both psychological capacities and a highly developed
organizational context, which results in both greater self-awareness and selfregulated
positive behaviours on the part of leaders and associates, fostering
positive self-development’” (p. 993, from Luthans & Avolio, 2003, p. 243).
ALQ (Walumbwa et al., 2008). 16 items. Summed to form composite authentic
leadership score.
Spitzmuller and Ilies (2010)
Leader Authenticity “Goldman and Kernis (2002) described relational authenticity as ‘involving
valuing and achieving openness and truthfulness in one’s close relationships …
and the development of mutual intimacy and trust’ (p. 19). Based on this
definition, Ilies et al. (2005) proposed that leaders with a relational authenticity
will strive for open and truthful relationships with their followers and such
orientation will have a number of positive outcomes” (p. 307).
Leader Authenticity measured with 45 items from the Authenticity Inventory
(Goldman & Kernis, 2001). 4 subscales: self-awareness (12 items), unbiased
processing (10 items), authentic behavior (11 items), and authentic relational
orientation (12 items). Summed to form composite authenticity score.
Walumbwa et al. (2010)
Authentic Leadership “Authentic leaders display four types of behaviors. These include balanced
processing, internalized moral perspective, relational transparency, and self
awareness” (p. 902; from Gardner, Avolio, Luthans et al., 2005; Gardner et al.,
2005a, 2005b; Ilies et al., 2005; Walumbwa et al., 2008).
ALQ (Walumbwa et al., 2008). 16 items. 4 subscales: self-awareness (4 items),
relational transparency (5 items), internalized moral perspective (4 items), and
balanced processing (3 items). 16 items summed to form composite authentic
leadership score.
Wong et al. (2010)
Authentic Leadership Authentic leadership “focuses on the positive role modeling of honesty, integrity
and high ethical standards in the development of leader–follower relationships”
(p. 890).
ALQ (Walumbwa et al., 2008). 16 items. 4 subscales: self-awareness (4 items),
relational transparency (5 items), internalized moral perspective (4 items), and
balanced processing (3 items). 16 items summed to form composite authentic
leadership score.

Table 8
Summary of empirical findings: antecedents, outcomes, and mediators of authentic leadership.
Variable Source Posited by vs. derived
from AL theory
Predicted
direction
Findings
Antecedents
Psychological capital (PsyCap) Jensen and Luthans (2006b) Posited + Supported
Hope Jensen and Luthans (2006b) Posited + Supported
Optimism Jensen and Luthans (2006b) Posited + Supported
Resiliency Jensen and Luthans (2006b) Posited + Supported
Self-monitoring Tate (2008) Derived − Not supported
Leader outcomes
Contingent self-esteem Toor and Ofori (2009) Derived − Supported
Ethical leadership Walumbwa et al. (2008) Derived + Supported
Perceptions of leadership
Initial perceptions Tate (2008) Derived Unclear Not supported
Change in perceptions Tate (2008) Derived Unclear Not supported
Positive modeling (i.e., “thrust”) Henderson and Hoy (1983) Posited + Supported
Psychological well being Toor and Ofori (2009) Posited + Supported
Transformational Leadership
Idealized influence Spitzmuller and Ilies (2010)a; Walumbwa et al. (2008) Derived + Supported
Individualized consideration Spitzmuller and Ilies (2010)a; Walumbwa et al. (2008) Derived + Supported
Inspirational motivation Spitzmuller and Ilies (2010)a; Walumbwa et al. (2008) Derived + Supported
Follower outcomes
Burnout Wong and Cummings (2009b) Posited − Supported
Empowerment Walumbwa et al. (2010) Derived + Supported
Esprit Henderson and Hoy (1983) Derived + Supported
Identification
Identification with supervisor Walumbwa et al. (2010) Posited + Supported
Personal identification Wong et al. (2010) Posited + Supported
Social identification Wong et al. (2010) Posited + Not supported
Job performance Walumbwa et al. (2008);
Wong and Cummings (2009b)
Posited + Supported
Job satisfaction Giallonardo et al. (2010);
Jensen and Luthans (2006a);
Walumbwa et al. (2008)
Posited + Supported
Org. citizenship behaviors (OCBs) Walumbwa et al. (2008);
Walumbwa et al. (2010)
Derived + Supported
Organizational commitment Jensen and Luthans (2006a);
Walumbwa et al. (2008)
Posited + Supported
Satisfaction with supervisor Walumbwa et al. (2008) Derived + Supported
Status concern Henderson and Hoy (1983) Derived − Supported
Supportive group Wong and Cummings (2009b) Derived + Supported
Trust in leadership Clapp-Smith et al. (2009);
Wong and Cummings (2009b);
Wong et al. (2010)
Posited + Supported
Work engagement Giallonardo et al. (2010);
Walumbwa et al. (2010)
Posited + Supported
Work happiness Jensen and Luthans (2006a) Posited + Supported
Organizational outcomes
Firm financial performance Clapp-Smith et al. (2009) Derived + Supported
Openness of organizational climate Hoy and Henderson (1983) Derived + Supported
Pupil control orientation Hoy and Henderson (1983) Derived − Supported
Mediators
AL→Follower empowerment
→OCB
Walumbwa et al. (2010) Derived +, + Supported
AL→Identification with
supervisor→Work engagement
Walumbwa et al. (2010) Posited +, + Supported
AL→Personal identification
→Trust in manager
Wong et al. (2010) Posited +, + Supported
AL→Social identification
→Trust in manager
Wong et al. (2010) Posited +, + Not supported
AL→Trust in leadership
→Firm financial performance
Clapp-Smith et al. (2009) Derived +, + Supported
AL→Work engagement
→Job satisfaction
Giallonardo et al. (2010) Posited +, + Partially supported

3.8.1. Antecedents of AL
Only two quantitative studies explored the relationships between selected antecedents and AL. In a partial test of Luthans and
Avolio’s (2003) model of AL development, Jensen and Luthans (2006b) posited that the POB states of optimism, resiliency and
hope, along with an aggregate measure of psychological capital (PsyCap) would be positively related to AL within a sample of

entrepreneurs. As previously noted, AL was operationalized by summing scores from selected items of the MLQ (Form 5X; Bass &
Avolio, 1993), ENTRESCALE (Knight, 1997), and the ECQ (Victor & Cullen, 1988). The POB states were operationalized using existing
measures of optimism (Shifren & Hooker, 1995), resiliency (Block & Kreman, 1996; Klohnen, 1996) and hope (Snyder et al.,
1996); overall positive psychological capital (PsyCap) was operationalized by combining the standardized scores for the state optimism,
resiliency, and hope measures. As predicted, both the separate POB states of optimism, resiliency, and hope and the overall
measure of PsyCap were positively related to AL, providing support for Luthans and Avolio’s (2003) model. Nevertheless,
because the measure of AL was created using items that were originally intended to measure other constructs (i.e., transformational
leadership, entrepreneurial orientation, and ethical climate), these findings must be considered tentative until they are replicated
using instruments specifically designed to measure AL, such as the ALQ.
In a longitudinal study of perceptions of leadership within undergraduate student work groups over time, Tate (2008) predicted
a negative relationship between self-monitoring and AL. Tate based this prediction on theory and research that suggests
both authentic leaders (May et al., 2003) and low self-monitors (Gangestad & Snyder, 2000) behave in accordance with personal
beliefs and values. As Table 7 indicates, Tate operationalized AL using an original 17-item self-report measure based on George’s
(2003) five dimension conception of AL. Although an exploratory factor analysis identified only three subscales (self-discipline
and ethical standards, establishing positive relationships, and passion for purpose) of the five dimensions conceptualized by
George, a composite AL score was derived by summing the 17 items was used for the analysis. Contrary to expectations, selfmonitoring
was unrelated to AL.
There are at least two possible explanations for this non-supportive finding. First, given that the AL measure Tate (2008) developed
has not demonstrated psychometric adequacy, it is possible that the lack of support is due to limitations of the self-report
AL measure employed. Perhaps high self-monitors, who are highly responsive to social expectations (Gangestad & Snyder, 2000;
Snyder, 1979), are just as likely to report themselves as authentic leaders as low self-monitors because they are responding to
social desirable cues inherent to Tate’s measure.
Second, Tate’s (2008) rationale for predicting that self-monitoring is negatively related to AL may be overly simplistic. Here, an
exchange of theoretical letters between Arthur Bedeian and David Day (2004) titled “Can chameleons lead?” that appeared in The
Leadership Quarterly is particularly relevant. Consistent with Tate’s reasoning, Bedeian argues that the chameleon-like qualities
associated with high self-monitors are unlikely to elicit the feelings of trust among followers that promote effective and ethical
leadership. In contrast, Day notes that there is nothing inherent to high self-monitors that ensures they will act unethically or violate
followers’ trust, nor is there any guarantee that the values that low self-monitors adhere to will be deemed ethical by followers.
To the contrary, because high self-monitors are attuned to situational demands, they are very likely to exhibit
high ethical standards, provided the ethical climate of the organization identifies such standards as core values. Moreover,
given Snyder’s (1979) assertion that the self-concept of high self-monitors is more multi-faceted than that of low selfmonitors,
there is no inherent inconsistency in the notion that a high self-monitoring leader can present a self-facet that both conforms
to follower expectations and reflects his or her “true self.” Hence, research that adopts a more sophisticated understanding
of the self-monitoring construct is needed to fully explore the potentially complex relationship between self-monitoring and AL.
3.8.2. Outcomes posited by extant models of AL
In comparison to the antecedents, the outcomes of AL, whether they are conceptualized as mediating or dependent variables,
have received much greater empirical attention. We begin by examining empirical tests of relational outcomes that have been
posited by one or more models of AL. In Section 3.8.3, we discuss outcomes that, while derived from the AL literature, were
both introduced and tested as AL consequences in the same empirical publication.
Models of AL have identified a variety of outcomes including personal and social/organizational identification (Avolio, Gardner
et al., 2004; Hannah, Lester, & Vogelgesang, 2005; Ilies et al., 2005), positive leader modeling (Gardner, Avolio, Luthans et al.,
2005; Hannah et al., 2005; Ilies et al., 2005), trust in leadership (Avolio, Gardner et al., 2004; Chan et al., 2005; Douglas et al.,
2005; Gardner, Avolio, Luthans et al., 2005; Gardner et al., 2009; Hannah et al., 2005; Hunt et al., 2008), follower job satisfaction
(Avolio, Gardner et al., 2004), organizational commitment by followers (Avolio, Gardner et al., 2004), follower work engagement
(Avolio, Gardner et al., 2004; Gardner, Avolio, Luthans et al., 2005), follower job performance (Chan et al., 2005; Gardner, Avolio,
Luthans et al., 2005; Ilies et al., 2005), leader and follower well-being (Gardner, Avolio, Luthans et al., 2005; Gardner et al., 2009;
Hunt et al., 2008; Ilies et al., 2005), and follower withdrawal behaviors (Avolio, Gardner et al., 2004), among others. As Table 8
indicates, empirical tests of these posited relationships have generally produced supportive results. Specifically, AL has been
shown to be positively related to identification with supervisor (Walumbwa et al., 2010), personal identification (Wong et al.,
2010), positive leader modeling (i.e., “thrust” or “the teachers’ perceptions of the principal’s efforts to motivate through personal
example”; Henderson & Hoy, 1983, p. 71), trust in leadership (Clapp-Smith et al., 2009; Wong & Cummings, 2009b; Wong et al.,
2010), follower job satisfaction (Giallonardo et al., 2010; Jensen & Luthans, 2006a; Walumbwa et al., 2008), organizational commitment
(Jensen & Luthans, 2006a; Walumbwa et al., 2008), follower work engagement (Giallonardo et al., 2010; Walumbwa
et al., 2010), follower job performance (Walumbwa et al., 2008; Wong & Cummings, 2009b), and components of well-being, including
leader psychological well being (Toor & Ofori, 2009) and follower work happiness (Jensen & Luthans, 2006a). In addition,
Wong and Cummings (2009b) obtained support for a predicted negative relationship between AL and follower burnout, which is
a negative indicator of well-being (Kernis, 2003).
Only the positive relationship between AL and social identification proposed by Avolio, Gardner et al. (2004) failed to receive
support (Wong et al., 2010). Thus, the prediction that AL would exert a direct effect on followers’ identification with their work
group and the organization was not supported. However, AL was shown to exert an indirect effect on social identification through

personal identification. Wong and colleagues (2010, p. 897) conclude that “[p]ersonal identification with authentic leaders influences
followers’ workgroup and organizational identification, because the leader represents the interests of the group and works
towards achieving goals important to the organization (Ilies et al., 2005).”
Other mediated relationships posited by AL theory that received empirical support include Avolio, Gardner et al.’s (2004) predictions
that the relationships between AL and work engagement and trust in leadership, respectively, would be mediated by personal
identification with the leader. Consistent with the former prediction, Walumbwa and colleagues (2010) confirmed that
identification with supervisor fully mediates the AL→work engagement relationship. In terms of the latter prediction, Wong
et al. (2010) demonstrated that personal identification mediates the relationship between AL and trust in leadership. However,
contrary to Avolio, Gardner et al. (2004) model, social identification did not mediate the relationship between AL and trust in
leader. Instead, personal identification mediated the relationship between AL and social identification, which in turn had a positive
relationship with trust in leader. Wong and associates (2010) argue that an authentic leader can enhance follower identification
with the work group only if followers first come to identify with the leader.
3.8.3. Outcomes derived from extant models of AL
In addition to direct tests of relationships posited by the extant models of AL, several relationships that are purportedly derived
from AL theory have been examined. Outcomes hypothesized as being positively associated with AL through extensions
of AL theory include transformational leadership (Spitzmuller & Ilies, 2010; Walumbwa et al., 2008), ethical leadership
(Walumbwa et al., 2008), esprit (Henderson & Hoy, 1983), satisfaction with supervisor (Walumbwa et al., 2008), supportive
group (Wong & Cummings, 2009b), organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs; Walumbwa et al., 2008; Walumbwa et al.,
2010), follower empowerment (Walumbwa et al., 2010), organizational climate (Hoy & Henderson, 1983), and firm financial performance
(Clapp-Smith et al., 2009). In addition, negative relationships between AL and initial perceptions of leadership (Tate,
2008), change in perceptions of leadership (Tate, 2008), status concern (Henderson & Hoy, 1983), pupil-control orientation of
school (Hoy & Henderson, 1983), and contingent self-esteem (Toor & Ofori, 2009) have been proposed. Finally, Giallonardo
and colleagues (2010) hypothesized that the positive relationship between AL and job satisfaction would be mediated by work
engagement, and Clapp-Smith et al. (2009) posited that the relationship between AL and firm financial performance would be
mediated by trust in the manager.
With three exceptions, empirical support for all of these predicted relationships was obtained. Two of the exceptions include
Tate’s (2008) failure to obtain support for his hypotheses that AL would be negatively related to: (1) initial perceptions of leadership
and (2) change in perceptions of leadership. The rationale for the former hypothesis is based on the assumption that because
more as opposed to less authentic leaders are less likely to engage in self-promotion, they are less likely to create
perceptions of leadership early in a group’s tenure. The rationale for the latter hypothesis is based on the assumption that the behavioral
integrity authentic leaders exhibit over time will foster perceptions of leadership later in the group’s tenure. Confusion
regarding the predicted direction of these relationships arises from inconsistencies between Tate’s wording of these hypotheses
and the directions depicted in his schematic model. Specifically, his hypotheses predict: (1) a negative relationship between AL
and initial perceptions of leadership; and (2) an ambiguous relationship between AL and changes in perceptions of leadership
(since such perceptions are posited to rise for high AL and fall for low AL). In contrast, his model depicts AL as being positively
related to initial perceptions of leadership and negatively related to changes in leadership perceptions, respectively.
Regardless of the direction of these relationships, we question his logic that high as opposed to low AL will produce lower initial
perceptions of leadership, since AL theory proposes that the relational transparency of authentic leaders will rapidly engender
and solidify followers’ trust — a key determinant of perceived leadership. Therefore, it may be that self-promotion on the part of
less authentic leaders, and genuine self-presentations by more authentic leaders, produce roughly equivalent initial perceptions
of leadership. If perceptions of leadership rise over time for more authentic leaders, and decline over time for less authentic
leaders, both may foster changes that are nevertheless operating in opposite directions. Thus, the lack of support for Tate’s latter
hypothesis may stem from a failure to account for the direction of the change in leadership perceptions.
The final exception pertains to Giallonardo and colleagues’ (2010) hypothesis that follower work engagement mediates the
positive relationship between AL and follower job satisfaction. Application of Baron and Kenny’s (1986) guidelines for assessing
mediation revealed that work engagement partially, as opposed to fully, mediated this relationship since AL remained positively
and significantly, albeit more weakly, related to job satisfaction even after work engagement was entered into the regression
analysis.
Taken as a whole, the available findings from quantitative studies provide support for the predictions advanced by and derived
from AL theory. As such, the nomological network of constructs empirically associated with AL is generally consistent with the
extended theoretical framework, and thereby provides preliminary evidence for construct validity (Cronbach & Meehl, 1955).
Nevertheless, it is important to reiterate that, given the limitations of the research designs used to test AL theory, the supportive
evidence generated to date must be considered tentative. Further research using more rigorous and diverse methods is needed to
strengthen confidence in the nomological validity of AL theory.

  1. An agenda for future AL research
    Throughout this review we have identified directions for future research. We will not reiterate those directions here. Instead,
    we wish to offer more general observations and additional recommendations for enhancing AL theory and research. We outline a
    five-pronged agenda for future AL research below.

4.1. Stronger theory building
As Table 2 indicates, the majority (59 out of 91) of AL publications to date have been conceptual. Of these, 55 were identified as
reflecting a positivist, as opposed to an interpretive (four publications) or critical (no publications), social science tradition (Neuman,
2002). Of these 55 publications, only 30 presented conceptual models, and only 15 offered propositions — components of theory
building that positivists consider to be desirable for making a theoretical contribution (Bacharach, 1989). Given these shortcomings,
it is perhaps not surprising that none of the theoretical AL publications have appeared in journals that would be considered top tier
outlets for management research (Gardner et al., 2010; Glynn & Raffaelli, 2010), although many have appeared in The Leadership
Quarterly, which is widely recognized as the top specialty journal in the field (Gardner et al., 2010; Glynn & Raffaelli, 2010; Lowe
& Gardner, 2000).
Perhaps the mixed level of rigor reflected in extant AL theoretical publications should be expected, given the nascent state of
the field, and the strong influence of practitioner-oriented writings (Cashman, 1998, 2003, 2008; George, 2003; George & Sims,
2007; George et al., 2007; Goffee & Jones, 2005). Indeed, the practitioner roots of the theory may serve to undermine the legitimacy
of the construct with scholarly reviewers. Moving forward, however, we are encouraged by Corley and Gioia’s (2011) finding
that Academy of Management Review articles that propose theories with greater “scope” in terms of scientific and practical
utility are particularly influential (based on citation counts). One implication of this finding is that the practitioner origins and
focus of AL theory may serve to enrich its potential theoretical contribution. On the other hand, to realize this potential, greater
attention to the basic components of theory, including the boundary conditions reflected by underlying assumptions about
values, time, and space (Bacharach, 1989), is required.
4.2. Expansion of the nomological network for AL
As the logical extension and a complement to theory building, theory testing is of crucial importance to moving a field of study
forward (Colquitt & Zapata-Phelan, 2007). Our content analysis revealed a recent rise in empirical AL publications following
efforts to develop and validate operational measures of authenticity (Kernis & Goldman, 2005, 2006) and AL (Walumbwa et al.,
2008). Nevertheless, our assessment of AL’s nomological network revealed gaps between the theoretical and the empirical framework
(Cronbach & Meehl, 1955). For example, although AL antecedents were proposed by both Luthans and Avolio (2003; e.g.,
trigger events, positive psychological capacities, positive organizational context) and Gardner et al. (2005a; e.g., personal histories,
trigger events, organizational climate), only Jensen and Luthans (2006b) explicitly investigated a predicted antecedent of
AL, PsyCap. Moreover, we were unable to locate any published studies that tested the interactive effects of the organization’s ethical
climate and AL that these models propose.
An example of specific contextual and individual difference factors to be considered in extending the nomological network for AL is
provided by a recent model of leader emotional labor and authenticity advanced by Gardner and colleagues (2009). These authors
apply Johns’ (2006) contextual model of organizational behavior to make a distinction between the omnibus (e.g., national and organizational
culture; industry and occupation; organizational structure; time) and discrete (the particular situational variables that shape
behavior and attitudes) contexts that influence perceived and felt leader authenticity. In addition, they posit that the level of positivity/
negativity, intensity, and display rules associatedwith affective events serve as stimuli for three forms of leader emotional displays that
reflect progressively higher degrees of authenticity: surface acting, deep acting, and genuine emotion (Grandey, 2000). They also propose
that the individual difference variables of emotional intelligence (Goleman, 1995;Mayer et al., 1999), self-monitoring (Gangestad
& Snyder, 2000; Snyder, 1979), and political skill (Douglas et al., 2005; Ferris & Kacmar, 1995) serve to moderate these relationships by
making it less likely that the leader’s emotional displays will be genuine. Hunt and colleagues (2008) subsequently extended this model
by considered the implications of close versus distant leadership (Antonakis & Atwater, 2002; Shamir, 1995) for leader emotional labor
and authenticity. We encourage research that considers the extent to which these and other contextual and individual difference variables
serve as antecedents and moderators of the level of authenticity achieved in leader–follower relationships.
More empirical research is also needed to explore the relationships of specific components of AL and various antecedents and
outcomes. While most conceptions and measures of authenticity (e.g., Kernis & Goldman, 2005, 2006) and AL (e.g., Walumbwa
et al., 2008), posit that these are multi-component constructs, research that examines the separate relationships of these components
with focal variables is rare (Spitzmuller & Ilies, 2010), and sometimes suspect (e.g., Wong & Cummings, 2009b, due to the
use of single items to operationalize AL components). Research that examines what components are most important in particular
situations and relationships and the dynamic interplay between the components is needed to develop a deeper understanding of
the authentic leader–follower relationships. In addition, attention to the processes whereby specific components can be enhanced
would have important implications for leader and follower development (Avolio, 2010).
4.3. More rigorous and diverse methods
Our content analysis revealed an overreliance on survey measures, cross-sectional designs, and single source data among the
quantitative empirical studies. The susceptibility of such designs to bias arising from common method variance (Podsakoff &
Organ, 1986; Podsakoff et al., 2003) may explain why only one empirical publication to date (Walumbwa et al., 2008) has
appeared in an outlet that is widely recognized as a top tier journal, the Journal of Management. By reporting findings from multiple
studies that used geographically and occupationally diverse samples, multiple sources, and a mixture of cross-sectional and
longitudinal designs, this study serves as a model for future quantitative studies of AL. As was the case for many of the theoretical

publications, greater rigor is required of empirical AL studies to establish the nomological validity and legitimize the construct in
the eyes of reviewers.

  1. Conclusion
    “Musicians must make music, artists must paint, poets must write if they are to ultimately be at peace with themselves. What
    humans can be, they must be. They must be true to their own nature” (Maslow, 1970, p. 22, original emphasis). This quotation
    from Maslow reflects a central premise of the authentic leadership literature that truly authentic leaders must lead, but they
    must do so in a way that honors their core values, beliefs, strengths — and weaknesses. This assumption of authentic leadership
    theory that people in organizations can effectively lead, and follow, in a way that enables them to express their own unique identity
    and style, has created a sense of excitement among leadership scholars and practitioners. We hope that this review will provide
    a road map for further advancing authentic leadership theory, research, and practice, and thereby enable organizations to
    more fully realize the elevated levels of sustained and veritable performance that a leadership process grounded in authenticity
    has the potential to provide.
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We also encourage researchers to explore the utility of a wider range of methods, including implicit measures, experimental designs,
and qualitative methods. Survey measures of authenticity and AL are problematic because self-report measures may be susceptible
to social desirability bias (Podsakoff & Organ, 1986; Podsakoff et al., 2003), and other report measures tap only perceived, as
opposed to felt, authenticity (Fields, 2007). In contrast, implicitmeasures of social cognition (Garwronski & Payne, 2010)may provide
a useful alternative, and when used in conjunction with survey or other measures, may serve to triangulate the findings (Neuman,
2002). For instance, given Kernis’s (2003) assertion that authentic individuals possess optimal (secure and high as opposed to low
to moderate and/or fragile) self-esteem, measures of implicit self-esteem such as signature size (Stapel & Blanton, 2004) and the relative
attractiveness of one’s initials (Dijksterhuis, 2004) may serve as effective proxies for authenticity.
Experimental designs represent particularly promising approaches for teasing out the effects of situational influences on perceived
and felt leader authenticity due to the high level of control and internal validity they provide (Neuman, 2002). Indeed, experimental
manipulations of the discrete context (Johns, 2006), including affective display rules, ethical and cultural norms, or
peer pressure, may serve to clarify the interactive effects of situational variables and individual differences on experienced and
perceived leader authenticity. Therefore, we echo the calls of other scholars (Brown & Lord, 1999; Gardner et al., 2010; Hunt,
1999; Hunt, Boal, & Dodge, 1999; Lowe & Gardner, 2000; Wofford, 1999) who recommend greater usage of experimental designs
to not only facilitate strong inferences about the causal relationships among leadership constructs, but identify potentially positive
effects of AL that could accrue for individuals, groups, and organizations under the right circumstances (Mook, 1983).
Our content analysis also revealed that studies of AL employed a higher proportion of qualitative designs than has historically been
the casewithin the field of leadership (Gardner et al., 2010; Glynn & Raffaelli, 2010). Extensive evidence for the broad array of topics,
themes, leadership roles and challenges to AL on which qualitative methods can shed light is provided by the qualitative studies examined
in our review. These include: (1) Dillon’s (2001) case study of the leadership style, practices, relationships, and manifest authenticity
of occupational therapy educator Sr. Genevieve Cummings of the College of St. Catherine; (2) Catherine Bissessar’s (2010)
application of narrative analysis of speeches, e-mails, Facebook pages, and a party manifesto to examine the authentic leadership of
Kamla Persad Bissessar, the PrimeMinister of Trinidad and Tobago; (3) Endrissat and colleagues’ (2007) narrative analysis of the challenges
of authentic leadership (e.g., understanding one’s own position; binding commitment to self and others, i.e., “walking the talk”;
relationship to one’s business; social proximity to members of one’s team and community; and authenticity, “to be oneself”) perceived
by Swiss business leaders; (4) Liu’s (2010) application of discourse analysis of media texts to construct a framework for understanding
the ways by which leaders facing failure actively construct and negotiate images of authenticity, style, and effectiveness;
(5) Pittinsky and Tyson’s (2005, p. 260) use of focus groups with a “gender-balanced, socially and geographically diverse cohort
of African Americans from the Hip-Hop generation” to identify “authenticity markers” for African American political leaders; and
(6) Shirey’s (2009) use of interviews and narrative analysis to explore the relationships between authentic leadership, positive and
negative organizational cultures, and healthy work environments. Clearly, such studies provide deep insights into the nature and
manifestations of authentic leadership across diverse contexts that are not readily amenable to discovery through quantitative
methods alone. Hence,we join Bryman (1995) and Conger (1998) in calling formore extensive use of qualitativemethods to provide
thick narrative descriptions of leadership processes and contexts, including the dynamic interplay between authentic leadership,
authentic followership, and positive ethical climates.
4.4. Attention to authentic followership
From the outset, practitioner and scholarly authors have emphasized the importance of authentic followership (Gardner,
Avolio, Luthans et al., 2005; George, 2003; Shamir & Eilam, 2005) as a central component of the AL process. For example, Gardner
and associates posited that a positive ethical climate would facilitate the development of authentic leaders and followers in a
complementary fashion, and thereby foster authentic relationships. We suspect that the authenticity of followers may be as important
to the development of authentic leadership as the authenticity of the leader. Nevertheless, none of the empirical studies
reviewed focused explicitly on authentic followership. Hence, as Avolio and Reichard (2008) emphasize, empirical investigations
of the role that followers play in the formation of authentic relationships is critical.
4.5. Focus on AL development
Right from the start, Luthans and Avolio (2003) made authentic leadership development the cornerstone of their AL framework,
as the subtitle of their chapter, “A Positive Developmental Approach,” makes clear. Because Avolio (2010) provides an extensive
summary of the progress he and his colleagues have made in pursuing this research agenda, we chose not to make AL
development a focal point for our review. Nevertheless, we echo his call for greater attention to the design and implementation
of intervention strategies intended to foster the development of authentic leaders and their followers. We also second his plea for
more systematic evaluations of the host of commercial and educational programs currently offered that promise to enhance the
development of leaders, including their authenticity, integrity, and effectiveness. Without such evaluations, we run the risk of
underutilizing the considerable promise of the AL construct, and the leverage it provides for producing veritable and sustained
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