This essay describes the influence of authentic leadership in promoting employee involvement, creativity, and performance in the workplace. A crucial responsibility in leadership and management is to create a workplace environment that supports and inspires employees or team members by offering them opportunities to assume considerable ownership and accountability for their performance outcomes (Maximo et al., 2019). By fostering a culture of collaboration, authentic leadership supports and stimulates employees, motivating them to increase performance and build the confidence to actively participate in workplace activities, including decision-making and creativity (AlMazrouei, 2023; Maximo et al., 2019). Thus, this essay illustrates how authentic leadership influences employee involvement and creativity to attain improved performance by highlighting an overview of authentic leadership, relevance and strengths, and weaknesses and limitations. The essay then concludes with a summary of the critical highlights discussed throughout the essay sections.
Overview of Authentic Leadership
Authentic leadership is usually considered a positive leadership behaviour that emphasizes fostering both positive psychological abilities and an ethical environment to promote augmented internalized moral reasoning, enhanced self-awareness, relational transparency, and objective information processing (AlMazrouei, 2023; Maximo et al., 2019; Zhang et al., 2018). Therefore, authentic leadership seems to emphasize the impacts of leaders on human relationships in an organizational context. According to Maximo et al. (2019), the humanitarian approach in authentic leadership needs leaders to concentrate on investing in persons and supporting others to attain their optimal capabilities. Authentic leadership can therefore be considered a suitable leadership approach in promoting a positive workplace culture where every employee can thrive and realize their full potential to execute given duties excellently. According to research findings, the primary features of authentic leadership that are critical in promoting organizational performance include positive psychological aspects such as hope, resilience, optimism, confidence, trust, and the ability to develop others’ virtues to create positive self-development (AlMazrouei, 2023; Zhang et al., 2018). With such psychological aspects, authentic leadership creates a workplace culture that inspires employees to develop a sense of psychological ownership of their organization, making them work optimally to attain personal growth and accomplish organizational goals.
Relevance and Strengths of Authentic Leadership
Insights from the self-determination theory individuals/employees always search for the satisfaction of some innate psychological requirements, including autonomy, relatedness, and competence, with the total satisfaction of these requirements acting as central motivation drivers that promote human well-being, behaviour, and attitudes in an organizational setting (Yaniv et al., 2020). For instance, the autonomous motivation of employees directly impacts their performance behaviour, with the availability of an authentic leadership workplace coupled with high internalized moral reasoning and self-awareness inspiring employees to share knowledge and reveal their honest feelings and thoughts. When working in a culturally diverse workplace like in China, authentic leaders can use their internalized moral reasoning trait to evaluate the autonomous differences among the employees and foster a supportive workplace culture to allow each employee to feel an essential part of the organization and thereby take full responsibility for their daily tasks leading to heightened employee performance and consequently improved overall organizational performance (Maximo et al., 2019). When employees perceive high autonomy levels, they often develop advanced self-efficacy, motivating them to adopt proactive tactics to take an extra step towards improving the organization’s performance as they have a sense of ownership. So, it is sensible to argue that authentic leadership’s internalized moral reasoning and self-awareness help create a workplace culture and structure that fosters the growth of improved employee autonomy, which motivates them to act proactively for the betterment of the organization.
Working in an environment characterized by authentic leadership traits such as internalized moral reasoning, enhanced self-awareness, relational transparency, and objective information processing can improve the likelihood of satisfying employee’s basic requirements and needs through the improved improvement of their intellectual or psychological conditions leading to heightened psychological empowerment among employees (AlMazrouei, 2023). Employees with enhanced psychological empowerment and autonomy are likelier to portray more self-efficacy, competence, and positive behaviour in their work settings, which consequently improves their individual inspiration to foster proactive goal execution procedures leading to increased performance. Zhang et al. (2018) state that complete satisfaction of an individual’s needs, like enhanced psychological empowerment and self-determination, can be transmitted into intrinsic inspiration and foster consequent proactive behaviours such as increased task performance, leading to improved organizational performance. Furthermore, findings on the factors motivating proactive behaviour indicate that employees often examine their emotional and competence resources, and their level of controlling such behaviours implies that they are likely to perform at their best when provided with a leadership approach that guarantees autonomous control of their emotions. A feeling of self-determination and competence, acquired through improved psychological empowerment, is vital in helping employees attain enhanced self-performance, which is fundamental in promoting organizational performance. Thus, it can be inferred that authentic leadership links with improved employee proactive attitudes and behaviours by fostering an environment that inspires augmented employee psychological empowerment.
Authentic leadership heightens employees’ relatedness feelings via relational transparency. Fostering relational transparency helps authentic leaders to nurture a workplace that encourages employees to openly express their honest views, feelings, attitudes, and thoughts regarding a certain problem or situation. Creating a workplace that allows employees to express themselves openly helps establish seamless interpersonal understanding in a diverse workplace and creates a firm background for more effective interactions between employees and leaders. Interpersonal understanding in the workplace is crucial in building effective team collaboration leading to better attainment of team and organizational goals through enhanced team performance (Maria, 2019). Working in a work environment managed by an authentic leader who prioritizes open interactions and temperament can make employees feel considerably comfortable participating in proactive and positive behaviours that contribute to better performance and task accomplishment. One of the consequences of the authentic leadership dimension on relational transparency is an increased likelihood of increased organizational citizenship behaviour, which consequently inspires employees to work beyond their formal job description to realize improved performance and competitiveness of the organization (Nasab & Afshari, 2019). With enhanced organizational citizenship behaviour, employees engage in extra proactive activities, such as assisting colleagues, remaining loyal to the organization, and performing extra tasks to guarantee better organization performance through an increased sense of ownership and relational transparency instilled by their authentic leaders. Hence, given the diversity in today’s workplaces, authentic leadership plays a fundamental role in creating an open and transparent workplace culture to make every employee feel at liberty to express themselves and engage with colleagues to solve problems better and execute given tasks.
Authentic leaders with high internalized moral reasoning and self-awareness have a higher understanding of how their leadership actions can impact their followers or employees (Maximo et al., 2019). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory requires leaders to understand that every person can attain self-actualization and self-efficacy once their basic wants are fully satisfied, motivating them to perform at their individual best to perform assigned tasks better (Stawasz, 2019). Authentic leadership aligns with Maslow’s hierarchy theory perception of positive leadership by demonstrating increased self-awareness and internalized moral reasoning to identify and understand its followers’ or employees’ physical and emotional needs. Maslow’s perspective affirms that an employee’s self-actualization stimulates intrinsic motivation to execute tasks excellently (Stawasz, 2019). Leaders with high self-awareness prioritize seeking employee feedback to establish sustainable interactions that promote heightened workplace engagement to foster high performance and individual development. High self-awareness coupled with high internalized moral reasoning helps authentic leaders to understand that each employee has unique needs that must be addressed to motivate them to perform better and attain the required goals (Nasab & Afshari, 2019). Therefore, authentic leaders prioritize listening to their followers’ feedback and concerns and appropriately address each follower’s needs and feedback to ensure all followers are satisfied to perform the duties and tasks assigned by the leader. Authentic leaders have an informed understanding and awareness of employees’ needs and concerns and the measures that can stimulate and inspire internal motivation among the employees. With heightened internal motivation, employees can voluntarily adopt extra proactive practices to promote the organisation’s success, as intrinsic motivation makes them feel part of the organization’s success and performance. For instance, the willingness of authentic leaders to seek feedback from employees increases employees’ feelings of self-confidence and trust towards the leader, leading to effective employee performance and improved organizational productivity (Nasab & Afshari, 2019). When managing culturally diverse workplaces like a workplace comprising Chinese employees, authentic leaders attribute self-awareness to allow them to listen and identify the behavioural differences among the employees to assess the best leadership methods to address each employee’s needs by fostering an authentic workplace setting.
Weaknesses and Limitations of Authentic Leadership
Although authentic leadership emphasizes promoting positive outcomes in all circumstances, it may be impossible for authentic leaders to simultaneously balance their self-worth and their followers’ self-worth, especially when managing culturally diverse teams (Alvesson & Einola, 2019). The diverse cultural differences among employees can make employees have extremely differing opinions, issues, and needs, making it hard for a leader to create an authentic workplace setting that supports the self-worth of the leader and the employees. For instance, it might be hard for authentic leaders to be diplomatic and consider the wants and requirements of others rather than considering self needs and requirements. The potential risk that might arise when a leader and employees’ needs are3 not balanced is the increased possibility of decreased team coordination leading to lower employee performance.
The context of leadership and authenticity may differ depending on a particular culture, making it hard for leaders to effectively demonstrate authentic leadership practices in work environments with extremely different cultures (Zhang et al., 2018). When leading a culturally diverse workplace, an authentic leader may find it challenging to understand the basic needs of each employee, leading to an inability to identify methods of inspiring internal motivation among the employees. Lack of internal motivation among employees can lead to employee demoralization contributing to poor individual performance and reduced organizational productivity. When supervising a culturally diverse workplace, it may not be simultaneous for authentic leaders to apply sound or valid self-defensive tactics when dodging some important cultural needs among the employees (Lecture notes). Also, it may be hard for authentic leaders to maintain their personal internalized moral perspective linked with cultural orientations, political correctness, and environmental issues and concentrate on the wants and concerns of the followers or employees (Zhang et al., 2018).
The reliance of authentic leadership on the leader’s capability to solely create relational transparency and self-awareness may sometimes be impossible to attain without adequate time, enthusiasm, and commitment to the leader’s self-improvement (Alvesson & Einola, 2019). The success of authentic leadership lies within the leader’s capability to demonstrate internalized self-awareness and relatedness transparency. Hence, failure to foster effective self-awareness and relatedness transparency can jeopardize the performance of employees. It is, therefore, paramount for authentic leaders to ensure they have enough time and are highly committed to listening to their follower’s or employees’ feedback and need to apply authentic practices that ensure every employee attains self-awareness and self-determination to engage with colleagues to perform better given tasks willingly.
Therefore, when adopting authentic leadership, it is paramount for leaders to pay keen attention to the potential limitations and shortcomings that might jeopardize their capability to foster authenticity in all leadership environments by adopting appropriate mitigation measures to avoid potential backlashes. It is, thus, important for leaders to understand the strengths and limitations of a leadership approach before applying it to ensure the selected leadership style can effectively address all the needs and requirements of the employees to guarantee increased performance and morale among the employees.
Authentic leadership is developed and implemented around several unique dimensions, including internalized moral reasoning, enhanced self-awareness, relational transparency, and objective information processing. These authentic leadership dimensions allow authentic leaders to demonstrate respect for workplace diversity and the needs of employees that contribute to the generation of positive performance outcomes concerning employee satisfaction, inspiration, self-actualization, self-determination, self-efficacy, and successful goal completion. Effective authentic leadership, therefore, promotes employee performance by establishing a workplace setting that fosters employee engagement, open interpersonal relationships and communication, self-awareness, and intrinsic motivation. However, when applying authentic leadership in a workplace comprised of employees with diverse cultures, the leader needs to understand the strengths and limitations of a leadership approach before applying it to ensure the selected leadership style can effectively fit with the needs and requirements of the employees to guarantee increased performance morale among the employees.
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