Emotional labor and leadership: A threat to authenticity?

William L. Gardner, Dawn Fischer, James G.(Jerry) Hunt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

259 Scopus citations


Building on the emotional labor and authentic leadership literatures, we advance a conceptual model of leader emotional displays. Three categories of leader emotional displays are identified: surface acting, deep acting and genuine emotions. The consistency of expressed leader emotions with affective display rules, together with the type of display chosen, combines to impact the leader's felt authenticity, the favorability of follower impressions, and the perceived authenticity of the leader by the followers. Emotional intelligence, self-monitoring ability, and political skill are proposed as individual differences that moderate leader emotional display responses to affective events. We also look at followers' trust in the leader and leader well-being as key outcomes. Finally, we explore the influence on leader emotional labor of contextual dimensions of the environment, including the omnibus (national and organizational culture, industry and occupation, organizational structure, time) and discrete (situational) context. Directions for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)466-482
Number of pages17
JournalLeadership Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2009


  • Authentic leadership
  • Context
  • Emotional labor
  • Trust
  • Well-being


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