Authentic leadership in context: An analysis of banking CEO narratives during the global financial crisis

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Human Relations, 2017, 70 (6), pp. 694 - 724
Issue Date:
2017-06-01
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© 2016, © The Author(s) 2016. The concept of authentic leadership rose to prominence through its idealization as an inherently moral and universally desirable trait. We problematize this romantic notion by exploring how the ‘authenticity’ of the CEOs of four major Australian banks was discursively constructed before and during the global financial crisis (GFC). Using multimodal discourse analysis of media texts, we show how what it meant to be an ‘authentic leader’ was co-constructed differently by the CEOs and the media. We also highlight the dynamic nature of context, where the GFC was variously framed by and for each of the CEOs. Our study challenges the acontextual notion of authentic leadership by showing how a discursively constructed context can reinforce or undermine leaders’ narratives of authenticity.
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