Does a follower’s perception of an authentic leader impact job satisfaction?

Are you a leader trying to drive job satisfaction?

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In today’s VBlog I talk about the Authentic leader-follower role in job satisfaction. This discussion was spurred on by a question I received last week from Rick Botehlo. Thanks Rick!!! The article today comes from the Australia Journal of Managment (2014) titled “Congruence of leader self-perception and follower perceptions of authentic leadership: Understanding what authentic leadership is & how it enhances employees’ job satisfaction”, by Matej Černa and colleagues from the University of Ljubljana.

Here are the two big questions the researchers asked:

When a follower perceives a leader as authentic, does their job satisfaction increase? and,

Does job satisfaction increase when the leader perceives themselves as authentic at the same time as a follower perceives the leader as authentic. Essentially, dual perceived authenticity.  

To answer this Černa and colleagues investigated 24 executives and 171 of their followers. Using several statistical methods they found that when followers perceive the leader as authentic their job satisfaction increases. This is not so much of a surprise, but what is cool is the fact that the follower needs to social construct their beliefs and attitudes of what is authentic. So, while followers construct their beliefs and attitudes towards the idea of what authenticity is for them, the researchers investigated another thought. They decided to explore a leaders perception of their authenticity to determine if it has an impact on job satisfaction. The result is a big fat no, which makes sense. Being authentic is an intrinsically motivated state that individuals are in or move towards. Being an authentic leader is not explicitly linked to job satisfaction. The second question is also equally as interesting. What they found is that when both the leader and follower share perceptions of authentic leadership (leader self-perception and follower leader perception), job satisfaction is strengthened to more significant degree driving employee loyalty. This is attributed to the outcomes or actions of an authentic leader, which enhance the follower’s desire to go above and beyond for the leader. When a leader embraces their authenticity, they facilitate meaningful interactions with their followers that revolve around trust, relationships and dual processing (looking at both sides of an issue). 

So, some food for thought. If you are someone who has to ask yourself if you are authentic, chances are that you are on the journey towards authenticity or stuck fighting the public versus private self-dilemma. So Rick, to answer your question. At least in this example, we can make the assumption based on the research that followers who see their leader as inauthentic demonstrate lower levels of job satisfaction. To me, that passes the sniff test.

Next week, the impact of authentic leadership on not only the follower but the group.

James Kelley, Ph.D

[email protected]

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