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Self, follower, organization and the context – a cross cultural view of authentic leadership

Shaista E. Khilji (Department of Human and Organizational Learning, The George Washington University, Washington, District of Columbia, United States of America.)
Brian Keilson (Department of Human & Organizational Learning, George Washington University, Washington, District of Columbia, United States of America.)
Farah Yasmine Shakir (Department of Managing People in Organizations, IESE Business School, Barcelona, Spain.)
Binod Krishna Shrestha (Department of Entrepreneurship and Marketing, School of Management, Kathmandu University, Lalitpur, Nepal.)

South Asian Journal of Global Business Research

ISSN: 2045-4457

Article publication date: 2 March 2015

Abstract

Purpose

Scholars have argued that it is important to investigate how authentic leadership is manifested in different cultures (Avolio et al., 2005; Gardiner, 2011; Shamir and Eilam, 2005). Hence the purpose of this paper is to capture a cross-cultural view of authentic leadership, using a sample of South Asian leaders.

Design/methodology/approach

Because of a dearth of qualitative empirical evidence, the authors adopted a “life story” approach to collect data. A total of 14 leaders from India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka were interviewed to share their leadership experiences.

Findings

Findings indicate that the concept of authentic leadership is culturally relevant. It emerged as a multi-dimensional construct constituting self-concept, follower development, organizational outcomes and culture (Meacham, 2007), and contextual knowledge. The authors propose a cross-cultural model of authentic leadership.

Research limitations/implications

Research limitations include researchers’ possible biases in design of data and an assumption that leaders interviewed were authentic. Despite these limitations, the study provides valuable insights about authentic leadership to strengthen its theoretical foundation.

Social implications

Organizational and social problems in South Asian are often attributed to a leadership deficit (Khan, 2014; Khilji, 2013; National Post, 2014; Sardesai, 2013). This study provides evidence of transformative authentic leaders in South Asia who are engaged with their and followers’ authentic growth, and are building authentic cultures for positive organizational outcomes.

Originality/value

The value of the present research is in providing qualitative empirical evidence from South Asia, and proposing a cross-cultural model of authentic leadership.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge all study participants who, despite their busy schedule (and sometimes even despite time differences), willingly and enthusiastically participated in this research. Thank you for sharing your stories. The authors are also grateful to Mr Navin Kumar (India), Dr Shrimal Parera (Australia) and Ms Subina Shrestha (Nepal) for their logistical contributions to this research; and to Dr Naresh Khatri, Dr Masud Chand and Dr Tassilo Schuster for their review of this paper. All errors are the authors.

Citation

Khilji, S.E., Keilson, B., Shakir, F.Y. and Shrestha, B.K. (2015), "Self, follower, organization and the context – a cross cultural view of authentic leadership", South Asian Journal of Global Business Research, Vol. 4 No. 1, pp. 2-26. https://doi.org/10.1108/SAJGBR-12-2014-0084

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited