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Authentic leadership and employee creativity: testing the multilevel mediation model

Bao-Da Xu (School of Management, Jilin University, Changchun, China)
Shu-Kuan Zhao (School of Management, Jilin University, Changchun, China)
Ci-Rong Li (School of Management, Jilin University, Changchun, China)
Chen-Ju Lin (Department of Marketing and Distribution Management, Tzu Chi University of Science and Technology, Hualien City, Taiwan)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 2 May 2017




The purpose of this paper is to test a multilevel framework to further explicate how team leaders’ authentic leadership is related to their followers’ individual creativity.


This study is based on a questionnaire survey/analysis of analyses of multisource and lagged data from 63 team leaders and 428 followers in Taiwan.


The findings demonstrated that leader-member exchange (LMX) and team psychological safe climate mediated the positive relationship of authentic leadership on followers thriving at work. Furthermore, employee thriving at work sequentially mediated the positive relationship between authentic leadership and employee creativity. The author also found that indirect relationship of LMX with employee creativity through thriving at work was stronger when authentic leadership was higher.


The authors contribute to the existing understanding that authentic leadership relates to individual creativity through three multilevel mechanisms: leaders modeling their authenticity to develop and maintain their dyad-level exchange relationships with their followers (LMX), motivating the team, captured by team-level psychological safe climate and its members, reflected by employee-level thriving at work, and facilitating the relationship between LMX and employee thriving at work.



This research paper is supported by the Training Program on Major Research Project of Social Science Foundation of Jilin University, China (Grant No. 2015ZDPY19); The Humanity and Social Science on Youth Fund of the Ministry of Education (Grant No. 15YJCZH084); the National Natural Science Foundation of China, China (Grant No. 71602067); and partially supported by Ministry of Science and Technology Individual Research Grant of Taiwan (Project No. MOST 104-2410-H-277-001-MY2).


Xu, B.-D., Zhao, S.-K., Li, C.-R. and Lin, C.-J. (2017), "Authentic leadership and employee creativity: testing the multilevel mediation model", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 38 No. 3, pp. 482-498.



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