Due Economy is Based on Authenticity? Authentic Leader’s Personality and Employees’ Voice Behaviour

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The study examines the impact of authentic leader’s personality on employee voice behavior through a quantitative study. The results, from a sample of 200 subordinate–supervisor dyads from a healthcare organization in Pakistan, provide evidence of a positive relationship for leader authentic personality with direct reports’ ratings of the leaders’ authentic leadership.  In addition, authentic leadership was found to influence subordinates’ voice behavior, as rated by subordinates’ immediate supervisors; notably, this relationship was partially mediated by the subordinates’ perceptions of OBSE.  Furthermore,  leader authentic personality was indirectly related to subordinates’ voice behaviour through the mediating influence of authentic leadership and, in turn, subordinates’ perceptions of Organization-based self-esteem. The findings of this study will make management understand the linkage of an authentic leader’s personality and employee voice behavior.                                                    


Key Words

Leader Authentic Personality, Authentic Leadership, Organization-Based Self-Esteem (OBSE), Employee Voice Behavior



Authentic leadership, or  the  extent  to  which  leaders  remain “true to themselves”, refers to “a pattern of leader  behaviour 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”  (Walumbwa, Avolio, Gardner, Wernsing, & Peterson, 2008, p. 94).

The aforementioned research has elucidated the effectiveness of authentic leadership.   Nevertheless, scholars have devoted little attention to clarifying the process of authentic leadership development (i.e., from its antecedents to its outcomes).  Gardner, Cogliser, Davis, and  Dickens (2011) noted that many major questions pertaining to the antecedents and consequences of authentic leadership have not been answered.  For the study of authentic leadership to progress, researchers must systematically examine who engages in authentic leadership and why and how authentic leadership matters. Thus, consistent with the suggestion of Gardner et al. (2011) regarding   the expansion of the authentic leadership nomological network, the objective of the current study is to clarify the  theoretical  understanding of the  antecedents and consequences of authentic  leadership.

To fill the void in the authentic leadership literature,  it explores the influence of an individual difference variable that may affect the perception of authentic leadership. Specifically, it identifies dispositional authenticity as a critical personal characteristic that may influence the likelihood of an authentic  leadership. Kernis and Goldman (2006) conceptualized dispositional authenticity as “the unobstructed operation of one’s core or true self in one’s daily enterprise” (p. 294). Thus, referring to self-consistency theory  (Korman, 1970, 1976), It posit that dis- positional authenticity may influence the likelihood of leaders’ acting consistently with their values, beliefs, and strengths in adverse situations and persevering through challenges, which often result in them being perceived  as authentic leaders. .  It also contribute to the emerging theoretical and empirical research on authentic leadership by examining its potential influence on employee voice behavior promotive behavior that emphasizes expression of constructive challenge intended to improve rather than merely criticize (Van Dyne & LePine, 1998, p. 109). Moreover, It focuses on employee voice behaviour because previous studies have suggested that authentic leaders can, through balanced decision-making, transparency, and ethical role modeling, create conditions that motivate followers to display positive extra-role behaviour (Avolio, Gardner,  Walumbwa,  Luthans,  &   May 2004; Hsiung, 2012). In addition, employee voice behaviour  is crucial for organizations because it promotes organizational effectiveness and prevents  crises (Liang, Farh, & Farh, 2012).

The study makes a number of significant contributions. First, it advance authentic leadership theory by  identifying potential determinants of authentic leadership.  Specifically, It hypothesize that leader authentic personality can serve  as a prerequisite to developing authentic leadership behavior. Organizations could benefit  from a useful theoretical model of authentic leadership that  clarifies how authentic leadership behavior manifests  in organizations.  Second, it contributes to the emerging theoretical and empirical studies on authentic leadership by analyzing followers’  OBSE as an explanatory mechanism through which authentic leaders can encourage their followers to  engage in voice behaviour.  By using this mediation model, rather than the leader-centered model that is used in most authentic leadership  research, it  provides  a follower-centred model of the motivational mechanism  that links authentic  leadership  to employee  voice behaviour.  Finally, as Gardner  et  al. (2005) suggested, authentic  leadership  theory has emphasized the developmental processes of authentic leadership and followership. It thus test a theoretical model involving the  process  of authentic  leader  and  follower development.  This approach  clarifies the  process  of authentic  leadership  development.


Literature Review

Walumbwa  et  al. (2008) conceptualized authentic  leadership and identified its four behavioural  components: balanced  processing,  internalized   moral  perspective,   relational  transparency, and self-awareness.  Balanced processing is the  ability of leaders  to  resist  denial,  distortion,  and  exaggeration. Specifically, authentic  leaders  analyze all relevant  information objectively before  reaching  a decision. Internalized moral perspective refers to how leader behaviours are guided  by internal moral values and  standards rather  than  by external  pressure from sources such as peers and organizations. Relational transparency is leader behaviours aimed at enhancing trust through personal disclosure  such  as openly  sharing  information  and feelings with followers. Finally, self-awareness is the  extent  to which leaders  understand their  own  motives,  strengths,  and weaknesses as well as recognize how followers view their leadership.


Leader’s Authentic Personality and  Authentic Leadership

Wood, Linley, Maltby, Baliousis, and Joseph (2008) presented a person-centered conception of  authenticity,   and  highlighted three  key components of dispositional  authenticity:  self alienation, authentic  living, and accepting  external influence. This construct   assumes  consistency  among   people’s  (1) primary experiences, (2) symbolized awareness,  and (3) outward  behaviour and  communication (see  Wood  et  al., 2008). The first component of authenticity  is the extent to which an individual experiences  self alienation  according  to conscious  awareness and  actual  experience.  Self-alienation refers to  the  lack of a sense of identity because  of a subjective  feeling of not knowing one’s  self (i.e., actual  physiological  states,  emotions,  and schematic beliefs). The second  component of authenticity, authentic  living, is the congruence between conscious awareness  and  outward  behaviour;  in short,  it involves behaviour and   expression   that   is  consistent   with  one’s  own  values, beliefs,  and  emotions.   Accepting  external   influence  is  the final component of authenticity,  and  refers to the  degree  to which   individuals   accept   the   influence   of  other   people; accepting  external  influence  is the  need  to  conform  to  the expectations of others.

Pinto, Maltby, Wood, and  Day (2012) suggested that authentic  living reflects feelings of authenticity,  whereas  self- alienation and accepting external influence represent in authenticity. From  a  self-consistency  perspective   (Korman, 1976), people  assimilate  ideas  that  are consistent  with their  past  experience  and  avoid  ideas  that  are  inconsistent with their past experience  to maintain  their self-concepts. On the basis of a previous analysis, it is argued that dispositional authenticity   influences  authentic   behaviour   by  acting  as  a self-regulatory  mechanism  rooted  in individuals’ internalized inclination towards  authenticity  or inauthenticity,  and  there- fore consider  dispositional  authenticity  to  be  a critical antecedent  of authentic  leadership  here.

Wood  et  al. (2008) maintained that  people  differ in  the degree  to  which  authenticity  is central  to  their  overall self- concepts,  which implies that  authenticity  is more  crucial for some  people  than  it is for others.  Accordingly, leaders  whose authenticity  has self-importance  are motivated  to act in ways that  are  consistent  with common  understandings of what  it means  to be an authentic  person,  and  results in them  being perceived   as  authentic   leaders.  The  motivational  power  of being  authentic  mainly arises from individual desire  for self- consistency  (Korman, 1976; Wood et  al., 2008). Leaders with dispositional authenticity  must outwardly behave  in a manner that is consistent  with how they view themselves; they are also more   likely  to   engage  in  authentic    behaviours   directed towards their followers. I thus propose  that dispositional authenticity    is  positively   related   to   authentic    leadership because  leaders  that  have dispositional  authenticity  are more likely to  behave  authentically,  which  manifests  as  authentic leadership.


Hypothesis 1. Leader Authentic Personality is Positively Related to Authentic Leadership.


Authentic Leadership and Employee Voice Behavior

Consistent  with previous  studies  (Morrison, Wheeler-Smith, & Kamdar, 2010; Van Dyne & LePine, 1998), voice is defined as the discretionary  communication of ideas, suggestions,  concerns, or opinions  intended to improve  organizational  or unit functioning. Walumbwa and Schaubroeck (2009) argued  that voice involves  the  bottom-up process  of  rank-and-file  employees catalyzing crucial changes  and  recommending improvements to  standard procedures.  Voice is typically characterized  as a vital form of extra-role behaviour. However, unlike other cooperative  forms of citizenship  behaviours  that  are positive  and discretionary, as well as those  that  promote  effective organizational  functioning  (Organ, Podsakoff, & MacKenzie, 2006), voice  ideas  that  challenge  current  processes  and  decisions can  generate negative  interpersonal consequences for those who express them  (Detert & Burris, 2007; Morrison & Milliken, 2000). Thus, employees  often  weigh  the  potential  costs  and benefits  of a behaviour  before  expressing  ideas.  Detert  and Burris (2007) indicated  that  employees’ immediate  work con- texts  (i.e., leader  behaviour)  strongly  influences  these calculations. It is  anticipated that  authentic   leaders  can  encourage  their followers to  express  their  opinions.  Previous theory  building has stated  that authentic  leadership  can foster employee  voice behaviour  (e.g., Hsiung, 2012). When authentic  leaders display positive,  transparent, honest,  and  ethical  behaviours  on  the basis of their  values and  beliefs, their  followers are  likely to emulate  them  according  to  a role modeling  process. Specifically, leaders  perceived  as authentic  are crucial in fostering  employee  voice behaviour.  Li et al. (2014) also argued that  the self-disclosure of authentic  leaders can build trusting relationships  between leaders  and followers. The trusting  leader-follower   relationship   can   encourage subordinates to favourably  judge  self-disclosure.  Thus, these  favourable  perceptions  may motivate  subordinates to engage in voice beha- viour. Supporting  these  arguments, Wong, Spence Laschinger, and  Cummings  (2010) studied   280  nurses  and  found  that authentic  leadership  encourages follower voice behaviour. Recently, Hsiung (2012) studied  404 employees  from a large real estate  company in Taiwan and demonstrated that authentic leadership was substantially related to employee  voice behaviour.  Accordingly, hypothesized that  authentic  leadership can promote  voice behaviour  in work groups.


Hypothesis 2. Authentic Leadership is Positively related to Employee voice Behavior.

Mediating Role of OBSE

Studies on authentic leadership have primarily applied  a leader centred perspective  to explain how authentic  leaders influence   follower   perceptions   of   leaders.   For   example, research   has  indicated   that   interpersonal  justice  (Li  et  al., 2014), leader-member exchange  (LMX)  (Hsiung, 2012;  Wang et al., 2014), and identification with leaders (Wong et al., 2010) mediate  the  effect of authentic  leadership  on employee  out- comes.  By contrast,  research  on  a follower-centred  perspective, which highlights  how  leaders  shape  follower self-worth evaluations    and   subsequently   their   responses,    is   scant. However, numerous researchers  have determined that  leader- ship  behaviour   can  influence  followers’  self-views  (Bono  & Judge,  2003;  Farh  &  Chen,  2014;  Shamir, House,  &  Arthur, 1993). Thus, a follower-centred  approach  is crucial to clarifying the  salient  influence  of  leadership   behaviour   on  employee work outcomes because  self-evaluation  is a key motivational mechanism  driving individual self-regulation,  effort, and  goal attainment (Bono & Judge, 2003; Shamir et al., 1993).

As applied  to  authentic   leadership  development in work groups, self-concept-based theory suggests  that authentic  lea- ders elevate member  perceived  self-worth or standing  in such groups.  Authentic  leaders  can thus  increase  employee  OBSE, which is “the self-perceived value that individuals have of themselves  as organizational  members  acting within an orga- nizational  context”  (Pierce et  al., 1989,  p.  625). Specifically, employees   with  high  OBSE perceive  themselves   as  crucial and effective within organizations.  In this study, the focus is on  OBSE  rather  than  on  general  self-esteem  because,   compared   with  general   self-esteem,   which  reflects  individuals’ beliefs  regarding  their  self-worth  and  competence, context- specific self-esteem  (i.e., OBSE) is more effective in predicting work-related   organizational   phenomena  (Pierce   Gardner, 2004;  Pierce  et  al., 1989). According  to  self-concept-based theory   (Shamir  et  al., 1993),  self-esteem   is  based   on  “the sense  of competence, power, achievement, or ability to cope with and control one’s environment” (p. 580). When authentic leaders  respect  each  of their  followers, use  follower input  in making   decisions,  and   understand  followers’  need   to   be valued, followers are more  likely to feel crucial to their organizations. In other words, authentic  leaders trust the ability of their  followers. As stated,   authentic   leadership   can increase   follower  self-worth.  Research  has  also  suggested that  favourable  leader  treatment can heighten follower OBSE (Pierce et  al., 1989). In this study, it is anticipated the  effect  of authentic  leadership  on follower OBSE to be heightened in a group  context,  where  self-awareness  is  strengthened. Therefore, Its hypothesized that  authentic  leadership  behaviour can foster follower self-esteem  (i.e., OBSE).


Hypothesis  3. Authentic Leadership  is  Positively Related  to OBSE.

It is further   theorized   that   OBSE serves  as  a  motivational mechanism  that  links authentic  leadership  to employee  voice behaviour.   OBSE represents  a  mediator   of  leader–follower relationships  (e.g., Chan, Huang, Snape, &  Lam, 2013; Farh & Chen, 2014). Thus, OBSE  may  link authentic   leadership  and voice  behaviour.  Followers with  high  OBSE  tend  to  believe that   they  are  valued  members   of  organizations   and  have high  social  status   among   their  co-workers.  Therefore,they tend  to believe that  they have more opportunities to express themselves  than  their  co-workers  do  (Liang et  al., 2012). As discussed, followers of authentic  leaders  are particularly likely to  have  high  OBSE levels. Such positive  self-evaluations  cre- ated  by authentic  leaders  may motivate  followers to engage with  their  work  environment. Specifically, authentic   leaders affect follower behaviour  by influencing follower self-concept, which increases follower self-esteem  and motivation. This pro- posed  underlying  mechanism  is based  on self-concept-based theory, which suggests  that  people  tend  to avoid dissonance and  maintain   balance   or  consistency   in  their  images   and actions. It is therefore  hypothesized that authentic  leadership strengthens  subordinates’   perceptions  of  OBSE, and   this influence  is realized through the  perception of high value to the  work group,  and  thereby  making  contributions to  their workplace by speaking  up their constructive  ideas.


Hypothesis  4. OBSE   Mediates   the   Relationship   Between Authentic  Leadership and Employee Voice Behavior.


Influence  of Leader  Authentic Personality on Employee Voice Behaviour

It is hypothesized that  leader  authentic  personality  is positively related  to  authentic   leadership  (i.e., Hypothesis  1) and  that OBSE mediates  the relationship  between authentic  leadership and  voice  behaviour   (i.e., Hypothesis  4). To complete   the proposed theoretical  model,  further  examination of  the  indirect effect of leader authentic  personality on voice behaviour. According to self-concept-based theory,  the  leader  authentic personality–voice  behaviour  relationship  might be more thoroughly explained  by exploring the mediating  roles of authentic leadership  and  employees’ perceptions of OBSE. In other words, leader authentic  personality may not be applicable as a sole predictor  of follower voice behaviour.  Instead, the  manifestation of leader authenticity  through authentic  leader behaviour and  simultaneously  developing  followers’ positive  self- development  is  likely to  explain  the  relationship   between leader  authentic  personality  and  follower voice behaviour.  In particular,  authentic  leadership  is characterized  as a form of leadership   style  that   originates   from  authentic   functioning but,  as a process  of influence, is also aimed  at the  development  of followers  (Gardner  et  al., 2005; Leroy et  al., 2015). Accordingly,  It is argued   that   leader   authentic   personality   is related  to employee  behaviour  only through its influence  on leader  behaviour  and  thus  on  follower positive  self-develop- ment.  Therefore, I propose  the following hypothesis:


Hypothesis 5. Leader Authentic Personality Is Indirectly Related To Employee Voice Behaviour Through The Mediating Influence Of Authentic  Leadership And Thus Employee Obse


Theoratical Framework

Leader’s Authentic Personality,Authentic Leadership,Organization-Based Self Esteem,Voice Behaviour


Methods and Analysis

Data for this study were collected from subordinates and their immediate  supervisors  from  different functional  work groups  in a large public healthcare organization. The  access to the   participating  organization was obtained  through  personal   networks. These work groups  are responsible  for various organizational operations, such as Human Resources,  administration,  finance, accounting, Quality Assurance, and Research & Development. Participation  was voluntary, and the confidentiality of participants  was assured during the survey distribution and collection. The surveys were collected during working hours.  Direct reports  reported on  their  own  OBSE  and  their supervisors’    authentic     leadership,     whereas     supervisors reported on their own  authentic  personalities  and  their  sub- ordinates’ voice  behaviours

The survey respondents consisted  of 200 subordinates and 20  supervisors; yielding  response   rates   of  83.1%  and 100%, respectively. Among the  group  members,  77% were male, the  average  age  was 30.06 years (standard  deviation [SD] = 3.17), the average  group  tenure  was 18.64 months (SD = 5.15), the average tenure  with the immediate  supervisor was 12.19 months  (SD = 5.68), and  all group  members  had undergraduate or higher  degrees.  Of the  group  leaders, 92% were male, the  average  age  was 38.92 years (SD = 2.67), and all group  leaders had undergraduate or higher degrees.


Organization-Based Self-Esteem

Subordinate  OBSE was measured using a 10-item OBSE scale developed and validated  by Pierce et al. (1989). Subordinates were  instructed  to respond  to what  extent  they  agreed  with statements such as “I am valuable around  my workplace” and “I  am  helpful  around  here”. The Cronbach’s alpha  (α) coeffi- cient for this scale was .90.


Voice Behaviour

Supervisors  rated  their  individual  members’ voice behaviour by using Van Dyne and  LePine’s (1998) 6-item scale. Sample items  included  “[This employee]  suggests  ideas  for new  pro- jects or changes  in procedure” and “develops and makes recommendations concerning  problems  that  affect this work group”. The Cronbach’s α coefficient for this scale was .86.


Hypothesis Testing

Table 2 shows the correlations and descriptive statistics for all study variables. Hypothesis 1 suggested a positive relationship between leader authentic   personality  and  authentic   leader- ship. Because these  variables  are  at  the  same  level (i.e., the group  level), hierarchical  regression  analyses was conducted.

Table 3.  Hierarchical Regression Results for H1              Table # 4 Hierarchical Linear Modeling for H2-5                                                                                       









Sex of supervisor







Model 2

Model 3

Model 4

Model 5

Education of supervisor











Age of supervisor





Level 1 variables











Sex of subordinate






Authentic personality .485.96**Education of subordinate        .09          .31***    .30***    .28***    .28***






Age of subordinate






R2  for total equation





Work group tenure of






n = 90 work groups; standardized coefficients are reported for                                     subordinate

the final step in each model.





Dyadic length






** p < .01 (two-tailed tests).





Psychological safety






Leader–member exchange   −.02          .15***    .12**      .13**      .13*



A recent review of studies on authentic  leadership  highlighted the  necessity  of  investigating   the  antecedents  and  conse- quences  of authentic  leadership  (Gardner et al., 2011). Therefore, in the present  study, I developed and tested  a multilevel  model  of  the  antecedents and  consequences of authentic  leadership.  I  reached  three  main conclusions.  First, guided   by  self-consistency  theory   (Korman, 1970,  1976),  I observed   that   leader   authentic   personality   was  positively related  to  subordinate perceptions of  authentic   leadership. Second,  on  the  basis  of  self-concept-based theory,  I  deter- mined  that  OBSE is a  catalyst  in  the  relationship   between authentic  leadership  and  employee  voice behaviour.  Third, I hypothesized that leader authentic  personality is indirectly associated  with employee  voice behaviour  through the  med- iating mechanisms  of authentic  leadership  and  thus  subordi- nate  OBSE.  The theoretical  and  practical  implications  of this study’s findings and limitations are presented as follows.



To  establish   enduring   organizations   and  create   long-term value  for shareholders,   modern  organizations   should  value authentic  leadership   development  strategies.  According  to self-consistency   and   self-concept-based  theories,  I   devel- oped  a multilevel  mediation  model  of authentic leadership development. The findings indicate that leader authentic personality is a crucial predictor  of authentic leadership. Furthermore, leader authentic personality may influence employee  voice behaviour  through the  mediating  mechan- isms  of  authentic  leadership   and   subordinate  OBSE.  The current  study  has  major  implications  for organizations  and managers    because    it   clarifies  how   authentic   leadership emerges  in organizations  and  the  effectiveness  of authentic leadership development. Thus, this study can serve as a springboard  for  future  investigations   into  other  constructs and the underlying  processes  that  facilitate authentic leader- ship development.




Figure 1
Table 1
Table 2

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