Does follower subjectivity matter in defining authentic leadership? A call for qualitative research
Authentic leadership (AL) has been proposed as the new leadership paradigm that can meet the demands of today’s organisations. The AL literature suggests that there are three critical aspects before AL will be bestowed: first the espoused values and actions of authentic leaders must be congruent, second, the expectation of the leaders and the followers must be congruent, and third, the leaders must behave with high moral integrity for the good of their subordinates, the organisation and the community. Since these features of AL involve subjective interpretation before authentic leadership is bestowed, it is likely that evaluations of it vary in different settings. This paper argues that to understand AL is to understand follower subjectivity. On that basis, this paper is calling for more research to explore the meaning of the AL construct from the perspectives of leaders and followers in different contexts. The paper suggests Q method as the preferred approach since it is argued as being robust in the measurement of human subjectivity.