Authentic Leadership, Leader Optimism, and Follower Affective Commitment: An Experimental Study

Authentic Leadership, Leader Optimism, and Follower Affective Commitment: An Experimental Study

Nevra Baker (Altinbas University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1108-4.ch013

Abstract

The aim of this study is to investigate the effect of authentic leadership together with the leader emotional expressivity of optimism on follower affective commitment towards the organization. This study was undertaken in the format of an experiment that is followed by a survey in which four groups of different fictional leader types were created, and respondents were asked to answer questions about their self-rated potential affective commitment towards the organization with the assumption that the respondents were actually working with the described leader. The findings of this study reveal that both authentic and inauthentic leaders who display optimism arouse higher levels of affective comitment by their followers as compared to their non-optimistic counterparts.
Chapter Preview
Top

Introduction

Authentic leadership is one of the most widely researched theories in leadership. The antecedents and the consequences of authentic leadership have been analyzed by many researchers. For example, according to Bennis (2003) and Eriksen (2009), self-knowledge is a prerequisite for authentic leadership. Second, Shamir and Eilam (2005) cite that leaders who have a high level of self-knowledge are clear about their values and convictions. Another antecedent for authentic leadership is self-consistency (Peus, Wesche, Streicher, Braun, and Frey, 2012). In addition, Walumbwa, Avolio, Gardner, Wernsing, and Peterson (2008) argue that it is of utmost importance for leaders to show consistency between their values, beliefs, and actions in order to be perceived as authentic. On the other hand, as cited in Peus et al. (2012), followers’ intrinsic motivation, self-esteem, and creativity (Ilies, Morgeson, and Nahrgang, 2005), trust, engagement and well-being (Gardner, Avolio, Luthans, May, and Walumbwa, 2005), as well as organizational citizenship and performance (Walumbwa et al., 2008) are among the consequences of authentic leadership. Also, Baker (2018) found in her recent study that authentic leadership has a positive affect on follower job satisfaction.

Emotions are omnipresent in leader-follower interactions, originating from and also affecting them (Rubin, Munz, and Bommer, 2005; Sy, Côté, and Saavedra, 2005). Because leaders have a deep influence on the activity of organizations and their insiders (Yukl, 2005), leader emotional expositions have solid capacity to affect how their subordinates feel, think, and act (George, 2000).

Former studies have investigated the effect of authentic leadership on follower affective commitment (e.g., Peus et al., 2012; Leroy, Palanski, and Simons, 2012; Guerrero, Lapalme, Séguin, 2014), and the effect of leader optimism on leadership outcomes (e.g., Chemers, Watson, and May, 2000; Murphy and Ensher, 1999; Avey, Avolio, and Luthans, 2011; Wang, Zhuang, Yang, and Sheng, 2014). Nevertheless, a gap exists in the leadership and emotions literatures in terms of what kind of an effect leader emotional expressivity of discrete emotions together with leader authenticity might have on follower job outcomes. The aim of this study is to fill this gap by analyzing the effect of authentic leadership together with the leader emotional expressivity of a discrete positive emotion, which is optimism, on follower affective commitment towards the organization. In order to do so, an experimental study is undertaken by describing four different fictional leader types to the respondents and asking them about their possible affective commitment with the assumption that they were actually working with the described leader.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Follower: Employees who are operating under the guidance of a leader.

Fictional Leader: Not a real leader, a leader described in an experiment.

Moderating Effect: The interacting effect of a variable on the relationship between the independent and the dependent variables.

Authentic Leader: A leader who is self-conscious and acts in harmony with his/her true ideas and emotions.

Affective Commitment: An employee's positive emotional attachment to the organization.

Optimism: The positive emotion that makes a person able to focus more on the the positive sides of life events rather than the bad sides.

Leader Emotional Expressivity: The degree two which leaders are expressing their emotions.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset