Academic journal article SA Journal of Human Resource Management

The Influence of Trait-Emotional Intelligence on Authentic Leadership

Academic journal article SA Journal of Human Resource Management

The Influence of Trait-Emotional Intelligence on Authentic Leadership

Article excerpt


The challenges faced by public, private and even non-profit organisations relating to ethical meltdowns, corruption, accounting fraud, and IP infringement (Price Waterhouse Coopers, 2014), as well as the growing attention paid to corporate social responsibility (Lawler & Ashman, 2012), have created a public need for organisational leaders who keep themselves accountable and who can lead with integrity, courage, and transparency (Diddams & Chang, 2012). Leadership has always been more difficult in challenging times (Avolio & Gardner, 2005) and, in the face of such pressures, people look for organisational leaders of character and integrity to provide direction, to help them find meaning in their work, and to restore confidence, hope, and optimism by relating genuinely to all stakeholders (associates, customers, suppliers, owners, and communities) (Avolio & Gardner, 2005; Gardner, Avolio, Luthans, May & Walumbwa, 2005). This type of leadership has been termed 'authentic leadership', referring to genuine leaders who lead by example in fostering healthy ethical climates, and who are not only true to themselves but who, likewise, lead others by helping them to achieve authenticity (Gardner et al., 2005). These leaders focus on their own moral compass and internal principles when facing unethical or ambiguous business practices (Diddams & Chang, 2012).

Authenticity is seen 'as a broad psychological construct, reflecting one's general tendencies to view oneself within one's social environment and to conduct one's life according to one's deeply-held values' (Ilies, Morgeson & Nahrgang, 2005, p. 376). 'At more specific levels, authenticity is manifested in concrete aspects of one's' behaviour 'and existence, such as in leading others'. Avolio, Luthans and Walumbwa (2004) describe authentic leaders as:

those who are deeply aware of how they think and behave and are perceived by others as being aware of their own and others' values/moral perspectives, knowledge, and strengths; aware of the context in which they operate; and who are confident, hopeful, optimistic, resilient, and of high moral character. (p. 4)

As first referenced in management and organisational literature, authenticity 'viewed the authentic capacity of a leader as a litmus test of executive quality' (Emuwa, 2013).

Authentic leadership has been associated with the following:

* promoting 'positive outcomes, such as' extra effort, increased trust, positive emotions, organisational commitment, and organisational citizenship behaviours (Dasborough, Todorova & Qu, 2014; Peus, Wesche, Streicher, Braun & Frey, 2012)

* employee creativity and innovativeness (Müceldili, Turan & Erdil, 2013; Rego, Sousa, Marques & Cunha, 2012)

* new venture performance (Hmieleski, Cole & Baron, 2012)

* follower empowerment, commitment to and satisfaction with supervisors (Emuwa, 2013; Müceldili et al., 2013)

* eudaemonic well-being (Ilies et al ., 2005).

Research has also indicated 'that authentic leadership may be particularly beneficial when shared among team members' within leadership teams (Hmieleski et al., 2012, p. 1479). In other words, although shared authentic leadership originates within individuals, it can also manifest as a team 'level property through members' common experiences, mutual interactions, and attraction-selection-attrition processes' (Hmieleski et al., 2012, p. 1479).

Because of the impact of everyday emotions on organisational life and the obvious demands for emotional labour inherent to the leadership role (Avolio, Gardner, Walumbwa, Luthans & May, 2004; Gardner, Fischer & Hunt, 2009; Humphrey, Pollack & Hawver, 2008; Walter, Cole & Humphrey, 2011), the role of emotions in leadership cannot be ignored. Gardner et al. (2009) state that:

although role demands of the leadership position and situational factors may create chronic needs for leaders to regulate emotions, acute events at work have the most immediate impact on a leader's emotions. …

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