Authentic leadership development: Getting to the root of positive forms of leadership

Bruce J. Avolio, William L. Gardner

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1829 Scopus citations


This Special Issue is the result of the inaugural summit hosted by the Gallup Leadership Institute at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2004 on Authentic Leadership Development (ALD). We describe in this introduction to the special issue current thinking in this emerging field of research as well as questions and concerns. We begin by considering some of the environmental and organizational forces that may have triggered interest in describing and studying authentic leadership and its development. We then provide an overview of its contents, including the diverse theoretical and methodological perspectives presented, followed by a discussion of alternative conceptual foundations and definitions for the constructs of authenticity, authentic leaders, authentic leadership, and authentic leadership development. A detailed description of the components of authentic leadership theory is provided next. The similarities and defining features of authentic leadership theory in comparison to transformational, charismatic, servant and spiritual leadership perspectives are subsequently examined. We conclude by discussing the status of authentic leadership theory with respect to its purpose, construct definitions, historical foundations, consideration of context, relational/processual focus, attention to levels of analysis and temporality, along with a discussion of promising directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-338
Number of pages24
JournalLeadership Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2005


  • Authentic leadership development
  • Authentic relationship
  • Authenticity
  • Positive psychological capital
  • Transformational leadership


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