AUTHENTICITY: THEORETICAL CONSIDERATIONS, INSTRUMENT DEVELOPMENT, AND IMPLICATIONS FOR LEADERS
The adage, “to thine own self be true,” captures the essence of authenticity and is age-old. Yet the issue of being true to the self remains highly relevant today, particularly for organizational leaders who operate within complex, globalized, and competitive environments that regularly challenge their personal authenticity. For those interested in assessing and
developing authenticity in the workplace, additional research on the topic is needed. In response, this study strengthens existing theoretical work on authenticity by offering an alternative approach to the concept, and creates a corresponding measure suitable for evaluating authenticity within the context of leadership.
The work began by providing an alternative conceptual approach to authenticity. Here, authenticity was defined as a psychological and behavioral process whereby an individual lives in accordance with the true self. Key components of the process include self-knowledge, selfawareness, self-regulation, and authentic behavior. The proposed framework advances existing
theory on authenticity by more thoroughly addressing the experiential, historical, motivational, and context-specific nature of self. The framework also extends current literature by offering a preliminary explanation of how aspects of authenticity may operate within a person, thereby highlighting the distinction between a leader’s ability and choice to behave authentically.
Following the establishment of the alternative theoretical framework, a supporting assessment tool was created. Instrument development involved various analytical approaches to create and refine the tool, to test for factor structure robustness, and to conduct a comprehensive validation study that tested the instrument against ten existing measures comprising 21 subscales.
Employee emails housed by an international consulting firm were used to invite participants to the study. Two launches, occurring approximately three months apart, administered different surveys to four samples and generated data from over 3,300 total respondents. The process resulted in the creation of the Authenticity Assessment for Leaders (AAL), a reliable 43-item
instrument featuring eight components. Substantial evidence was found in support of the AAL’s construct validity and criterion-related validity at both the construct- and concept-level. As such, the AAL and its underlying framework provide a valuable alternative approach to the future study, practice, and development of authenticity within the context of organizational leadership.