Authentic Leadership: Does Age Influence How Leadership Is Perceived? An Empirical Study

Authentic Leadership: Does Age Influence How Leadership Is Perceived? An Empirical Study

Susana Bernardino, Beatriz Teixeira
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-8822-5.ch011
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Leadership has been widely studied and recognized as important over time. This chapter has two main objectives. The first one is to analyse the perceptions that individuals have about leadership, either as a trait or a process, and the extent to which such perceptions are influenced by age. Secondly, the chapter aims to understand the presence of authentic leaders and if a person's age defines the relevance of this type of leadership. To attain these purposes, the concept of leadership is analyzed, as the transactional and transformation styles of leadership, as well as the characteristics of Generation Z. A quantitative methodology was chosen to achieve these goals through a survey based on the authentic leadership questionnaire. The results analysis reveals that age condition, even if in a very tenuous way, influences an individual's level of authentic leadership and how leadership is perceived.
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The current leaders, whether related to politics, companies or civil society, have to act according to a given and dynamic context and have to take into consideration the existing trends that rise pressures on the way things are done. The terms leader and leadership are commonly misused or misunderstood, although the impact they could have on an organization’s success. Since the term leadership and leader can be interpreted and seen through so many perspectives, Avolio and Locke (2002, p. 185) stated that “Leadership not only shapes the context in terms of how it is interpreted but it also is shaped by the context in terms of how it is perceived”, showing the importance to try and better understand it.

Due to the enormous challenges that today's societies have to face, leadership has taken on an increasingly relevant role. In today’s dynamic workplace, we need leaders to challenge the status quo and to inspire and persuade organization members.

However, different approaches to leadership can be as well as different leadership styles.

Although the more traditional approach that compares to different kind of leaders- transactional and transformational – a new a new sort of leader has emerged in the literature – authentic leadership.

Under the context of transformational leadership, this leaders aim to improve the ability of followers to achieve its goals, by means of ethic and trust relationship.

Herein, it is important to understand the way individuals perceive leadership and to what extent the perceptions about leadership have evolved between generations.

I such context, this chapter has two main goals. The first one is to understand the extent to which leadership can be seen as a trait or a process, and if it or not influenced by age. The second objective is to understand whether the demographic profile of an individual, namely age, is able to constrain the possibility of being an authentic leader.

The investigation is relevant, as the results attained can provide leaders, managers, followers and subordinates with the tool and insight to adapt their approach, behaviour, personal and organizational goals especially to the new generation who is currently entering the labour market and is becoming the more numerous in the near future - Generation Z.

Furthermore, since organizations are the place where all parties act and leadership is put to the test, the adaptability of leadership regarding the organization and the followers' perception is also considered important when trying to understand where authenticity comes from.

As Lunenburg (2011, p. 1) stated “Organizations provide their managers with legitimate authority to lead, but there is no assurance that they will be able to lead effectively. Organizations need strong leadership and strong management for optimal effectiveness.

To achieve these objectives, In the first chapter, leadership is analyzed from different points of view. Through a literature review, the meaning of leadership and its evolution is put into perspective and it is also considered in different stages. The literature review also exploits different approaches to leadership, which are based on a very different ways of establishing the relationship of leadership, between leaders and followers.

The second chapter describes the methodology used. After that, the third chapter focus on the analysis of the results attained. Finally, in the conclusion, the main finding achieved are presented and highlighted, as well as the strengths and limitations of the research. Finally, future directions and suggestions for future studies are made in order to move forward in future research on this subject.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Transactional Leadership: Leadership style based on the rewards and punishments of the followers.

Authentic Leadership: Leadership style based on trust and relationship with others, with emphasis on ethical aspects.

Leadership: The process of influencing an individual or group of individuals in a given direction, defined by the leader.

Generation: Group of people who share a similar age and were born and lived around the same time.

Personal Trait: Stable characteristics of individuals that influence their behaviour and actions.

Leader: Person who leads the leadership process, and who exerts influence on the followers.

Management: Process of coordinating resources in an effective and efficient manner.

Transformational Leadership: Leadership style that emphasizes the leader's capacity to inspire the collaborators and create conditions for development as a way of pursuing objectives.

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