An examination of authentic leadership in a religious organization
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the ways in which authentic leadership is evidenced in a religious organizational setting. Applications of authentic leadership theory have been tested in diverse settings, but few such applications have occurred in religious organizations. Thus, the goal was to explore how the core components of authentic leadership exist and operate inside religious organizations. A qualitative approach was used to examine evidence of authentic leadership as exhibited by 13 group leaders in a university-level religious organization. Interviews were conducted in order to determine the extent to which the four components of authentic leadership were exhibited by each group leader. Survey data were then collected from 36 group members to corroborate the leaders’ accounts. Analysis of the group leader interviews identified widespread evidence for the core components of authentic leadership, self-awareness, balanced processing of information, relational transparency, and internalized moral perspective, additionally illuminating nuances in leadership specific to this religious organization. Survey results from group members corroborated the accounts of authentic leadership presented by their group leaders. In conclusion, the thesis demonstrates a positive beginning to the introduction of authentic leadership to religious organizations and serves to provide a useful qualitative glimpse into the unexplored utility of the construct of authentic leadership for religious organizations.