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Leaders’ well-being – antecedent or consequence of authentic leadership?

Xenia Bolschakow (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Mainz, Germany)
Thomas Rigotti (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Mainz, Germany)
Kathleen Otto (Philipps-University Marburg, Marburg, Germany)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 11 May 2023

Issue publication date: 13 June 2023




The benefits of authentic leadership for followers have been thoroughly researched, but the effects on leaders’ well-being remain unclear. To address this research gap, the authors hypothesized reciprocal relationships between authentic leadership and work engagement as well as emotional exhaustion.


The hypotheses were tested in a German sample with leaders from different work sectors using a cross-lagged panel design with a time lag of 14 months (N = 137 at T1; N = 217 at T2).


Well-being significantly predicted leaders’ engagement in authentic leadership at the second measurement point, whereas the reciprocal relationships were not significant.

Research limitations/implications

Drawing on the Conservation of Resources Theory, possible processes underlying the observed impact of leaders’ well-being on their leadership behavior are discussed. The present research provides evidence that well-being constitutes a crucial basic resource for leaders to engage in constructive leadership behaviors such as authentic leadership.


This study contributes to the literature by uncovering the causal order linking authentic leadership and leaders’ health.



The study was supported by Grant F 2199 in the context of NEW OSH ERA (New and Emerging Risks in Occupational Safety and Health) within the sixth European framework (ERA-NET scheme).


Bolschakow, X., Rigotti, T. and Otto, K. (2023), "Leaders’ well-being – antecedent or consequence of authentic leadership?", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 44 No. 3, pp. 423-436.



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