Authenticity in leadership : Reframing relational transparency through the lens of emotional labour

Kempster, Stephen John and Iszatt-White, Marian and Brown, Matthew (2019) Authenticity in leadership : Reframing relational transparency through the lens of emotional labour. Leadership, 15 (3). pp. 319-338. ISSN 1742-7150

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In this paper we problematize relational transparency as an element of authentic leadership when viewed through the lens of emotional labour. Using the method of analytic co-constructed auto-ethnography we examine a senior hospital manager’s experience of seeking to be authentic during a period of intense challenge as he pursues the closure of a hospital ward. A first-person account is developed that speaks to the necessity of hiding felt emotions and displaying his perceptions of desired emotions warranted in the context in which he seeks to lead. That this is not experienced as inauthentic is seen as deriving from two dimensions of experienced authenticity: strength of identification with leadership role and fidelity to leadership purpose. The veracity of this reframing of authenticity in leadership practice is explored through a second study, of practising leaders required to balance the demands of performing emotional labour and appearing and feeling authentic. We suggest that reframing relational transparency as ‘fidelity to purpose’ may be a valuable counter-weight to the goal of relational transparency promulgated by the leadership industry and a practical advance for those seeking to practise authentic leadership.

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Journal Article
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he final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Leadership, 15 (3), 2019, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2019 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Leadership page: on SAGE Journals Online:
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? authentic leadership fidelity to purposerelational transparencyrole identification emotional labour strategy and managementsociology and political science ??
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17 Nov 2017 12:58
Last Modified:
27 Jun 2024 00:01