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Impossible or just irrelevant?: Unravelling the ‘authentic leadership’ paradox through the lens of emotional labour

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Impossible or just irrelevant? Unravelling the ‘authentic leadership’ paradox through the lens of emotional labour. / Iszatt-White, Marian; Stead, Valerie; Elliott, Carole.

In: Leadership, Vol. 17, No. 4, 01.08.2021, p. 464-482.

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@article{31fb3ed6996d4f8c8ce7e1bf4721b995,
title = "Impossible or just irrelevant?: Unravelling the {\textquoteleft}authentic leadership{\textquoteright} paradox through the lens of emotional labour",
abstract = "The clamour for leaders to be authentic in enacting their roles is now widely heard in both the academic literature and popular media. Yet the authentic leadership (AL) construct remains deeply problematic and arguably impossible to enact. Using the performance of emotional labour (EL) as a lens through which to view relational transparency, a core component of AL, our research surfaces the paradoxes inherent in this construct and their implications for practicing leaders. Our data reveals something of the mystery surrounding how practicing leaders are able to feel authentic even as they manage their emotions as a routine tool of accomplishing their leadership role. This apparent disconnect between the experiencing of authenticity and the actions/interactions in which this experience is embedded raises profound questions concerning authenticity as a phenomenon, how it is discursively constructed, its relationship to inauthenticity – especially in the practice of leadership – and even its relevance. Drawing on these concerns, we suggest an agenda for future research in relation to authenticity in leadership and highlight the value of emotional labour as a challenging {\textquoteleft}test context{\textquoteright} for honing our understanding of what {\textquoteleft}authenticity{\textquoteright} might mean.",
keywords = "Authentic leadership, Authenticity, emotional labour, paradox, inauthenticity",
author = "Marian Iszatt-White and Valerie Stead and Carole Elliott",
year = "2021",
month = aug,
day = "1",
doi = "10.1177/1742715021996928",
language = "English",
volume = "17",
pages = "464--482",
journal = "Leadership",
issn = "1742-7150",
publisher = "SAGE PUBLICATIONS INC",
number = "4",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Impossible or just irrelevant?

T2 - Unravelling the ‘authentic leadership’ paradox through the lens of emotional labour

AU - Iszatt-White, Marian

AU - Stead, Valerie

AU - Elliott, Carole

PY - 2021/8/1

Y1 - 2021/8/1

N2 - The clamour for leaders to be authentic in enacting their roles is now widely heard in both the academic literature and popular media. Yet the authentic leadership (AL) construct remains deeply problematic and arguably impossible to enact. Using the performance of emotional labour (EL) as a lens through which to view relational transparency, a core component of AL, our research surfaces the paradoxes inherent in this construct and their implications for practicing leaders. Our data reveals something of the mystery surrounding how practicing leaders are able to feel authentic even as they manage their emotions as a routine tool of accomplishing their leadership role. This apparent disconnect between the experiencing of authenticity and the actions/interactions in which this experience is embedded raises profound questions concerning authenticity as a phenomenon, how it is discursively constructed, its relationship to inauthenticity – especially in the practice of leadership – and even its relevance. Drawing on these concerns, we suggest an agenda for future research in relation to authenticity in leadership and highlight the value of emotional labour as a challenging ‘test context’ for honing our understanding of what ‘authenticity’ might mean.

AB - The clamour for leaders to be authentic in enacting their roles is now widely heard in both the academic literature and popular media. Yet the authentic leadership (AL) construct remains deeply problematic and arguably impossible to enact. Using the performance of emotional labour (EL) as a lens through which to view relational transparency, a core component of AL, our research surfaces the paradoxes inherent in this construct and their implications for practicing leaders. Our data reveals something of the mystery surrounding how practicing leaders are able to feel authentic even as they manage their emotions as a routine tool of accomplishing their leadership role. This apparent disconnect between the experiencing of authenticity and the actions/interactions in which this experience is embedded raises profound questions concerning authenticity as a phenomenon, how it is discursively constructed, its relationship to inauthenticity – especially in the practice of leadership – and even its relevance. Drawing on these concerns, we suggest an agenda for future research in relation to authenticity in leadership and highlight the value of emotional labour as a challenging ‘test context’ for honing our understanding of what ‘authenticity’ might mean.

KW - Authentic leadership

KW - Authenticity

KW - emotional labour

KW - paradox

KW - inauthenticity

U2 - 10.1177/1742715021996928

DO - 10.1177/1742715021996928

M3 - Journal article

VL - 17

SP - 464

EP - 482

JO - Leadership

JF - Leadership

SN - 1742-7150

IS - 4

ER -