Academic journal article Journal of International Business Research

Do Italian Men and Women View Authentic Leaders Differently?

Academic journal article Journal of International Business Research

Do Italian Men and Women View Authentic Leaders Differently?

Article excerpt


In a recent exploratory study, where the purpose was to explore the views and perspectives of graduate students with business experience, authentic leaders were seen as having the ability to act in a way which indicated who they were as a person. This ability to "be oneself' was a quality that existed regardless of gender (Luthy and Byrd, 2014). Although this finding resulted from a U.S. based convenience sample, it sets the stage for further exploratory work. In some instances, the language used men and women differed slightly, with men focusing on "being tme to oneself' while women focused on "expressing issues honestly." Both essentially were concerned with authentic leaders acting in a way congruent with who they were as persons. Consequently, the authors concluded that a trait of the authentic leader seen through the lens of both men and women was being yourself and being able to express yourself in an open and honest way. This study created further interest in whether differences in perceptions, if any, might exist due to cultural differences. This led to the current study exploring whether Italian men and women view authentic leaders differently.

that the leader who behaves authentically creates conditions that improve the performance of those working in the organization (Khan, 2010).

Moral dilemmas that are increasingly being given attention today, based on exposure to the individual problems of those in leadership positions, validate the need to study authentic leadership and the social pressures that impact leaders (Cranton and Carusetta, 2004). The idea of considering the moral implications of leadership is not new. As long ago as 1958 the business leader Chester Barnard integrated the idea of effective leadership with the need for moral excellence (Barnard, 1958). His work in the area of executive leadership separates the personal from organizational responsibility but emphasizes the importance of both for the leader. Recent research agrees that it is necessary for leaders to take action as a result of conflicts due to issues that involve personal responsibility (Kernis, 2003).

The actions of leaders that must be taken as a result of conflicts due to issues of personal responsibility can be a challenge to the leader's authenticity. This is especially true if authenticity is viewed as being true to oneself. There is no question that leaders find themselves in situations where organizational values conflict with the personal values of those in leadership positions (Ryan and Brown, 2003). These decisions are not just based on conscious decisions grounded in rational thinking, but can be influenced by the confidence of the leader (Kashdan, 2002). These situations add complexity for the leader and demands that they reflect on the meaning and application of authenticity.


We have previously emphasized the moral dilemmas of leadership (Cranton and Carusetta, 2004; Barnard, 1958). Authenticity can be viewed however, from a variety of perspectives (Avolio and Gardner, 2005). When viewed through the lens of morality it can be seen as being true to oneself and rising above the expectations of others (Pianalato, 2003). If ethical choice is the framework, emphasis is placed on the difference between the real and ideal self as mind and soul (Danzinger, 1997).

Another way to view authenticity is from a psychological perspective. Part of being authentic is for the leader to reflect on personal motives and unbiased perceptions of self, and the ability to reflect on behavioral and relational choices (Kemis, 2003). This requires psychological freedom so the leader is able to regulate behaviors in accord with individual needs for competence, self -determination, and relatedness (Deci and Ryan, 1995). This is closely related to the idea of "being oneself' and acting in accord with one's personal inner thoughts and feelings (Harter, 2002).

There have been different views of authenticity and how it relates to leadership versus its' psychological meaning (Bass and Steidlmeier, 1999). …

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