Authentic leadership within professional services organizations

Jeffries, Gary (2009) Authentic leadership within professional services organizations. MBA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Organizations, in the twenty-first century, are facing a dynamic and complex competitive landscape, driven by globalization, technological revolution and, in 2009, severe recession. The success of an organization in this context lies in its social assets, which creates new challenges for leaders. At times of significant change, a more authentic leadership development strategy becomes relevant and is needed for desirable organizational outcomes. Authentic leadership is argued to be "the next big theory" of leadership and is currently gaining strong support in both applied and academic management literature. It is seen as part of a move towards emphasizing the need for, and developing, positive emotional states in the workplace. Proponents believe that authentic leadership can make a fundamental difference in organizations by helping people find meaning and connection at work through greater self awareness; by restoring and building optimism, hope and confidence; by promoting transparent relationships and decision-making that builds trust and commitment among followers; and by fostering inclusive cultures and positive ethical climates. The encouragement of happiness in the workplace will lead, proponents claim, to improved performance. Critics, however, argue that the theory is inoperable in practice and could be damaging to organizations; moreover, issues are suggested with conceptual ambiguity, overlap with other leadership theories and measurement. This paper critically examines the construct of authentic leadership, drawing on recent academic thinking, and makes recommendations for organizations wishing to develop leader authenticity in the workplace. There is presently little direct empirical evidence relating authentic leadership to improved performance and job satisfaction, nor has authentic leadership been researched in professional services organizations. This project aims to fill this gap by empirically examining the extent to which authentic leadership contributes to job satisfaction and job performance, specifically in the context of professional services firms. Using quantitative research methods, this study demonstrates that the legal and property services sectors identify high levels of leader authenticity, with leaders in the legal sector considered more authentic by their followers on each component scale. The theoretical perspective identifying a positive relationship between authentic leadership and job satisfaction was confirmed, although the impact of authentic leadership on job performance was not proven. Given that job satisfaction has been found to relate positively to a wide variety of desirable organizational outcomes, this study finds that there is value to organizations in enhancing the levels of leader authenticity. This research contributes significantly to the academic debate on authentic leadership and creates a practical theory-based model for enhancing authentic leadership in professional services organizations, focusing on selection and developmental initiatives.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Portsmouth Business School > Operations and Systems Management
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2011 12:48
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 11:15

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