Title

Authentic Leadership: A New Theory for Nursing or back to Basics?

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2009

Journal

Journal of Health Organization and Management

Volume

23

Issue

5

First Page

522

Last Page

538

URL with Digital Object Identifier

http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/14777260910984014

Abstract

Purpose – Authentic leadership is an emerging theoretical model purported to focus on the root component of effective leadership. The purpose of this paper is to describe the relevance of authentic leadership to the advancement of nursing leadership practice and research and address the question of whether this is a new theory for leadership or an old one in new packaging.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper outlines the origins and key elements of the model, assesses the theoretical, conceptual and measurement issues associated with authentic leadership and compares it with other leadership theories frequently reported in the nursing literature.

Findings – The emerging authentic leadership theory holds promise for explaining the underlying processes by which authentic leaders and followers influence work outcomes and organizational performance. Construct validity of authentic leadership has preliminary documentation and a few studies have shown positive relationships between authenticity and trust. Furthermore, the clarity of the authenticity construct and comprehensiveness of the overall theoretical framework provide a fruitful base for future research examining the relationship between authentic leadership and the creation of healthier work environments.

Originality/value – A clear focus on the relational aspects of leadership, the foundational moral/ethical component, a potential linkage of positive psychological capital to work engagement and the emphasis on leader and follower development in the authentic leadership framework are closely aligned to current and future nursing leadership practice and research priorities for the creation of sustainable changes in nursing work environments.