The perils of authentic leadership theory

Katja Einola, Mats Alvesson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (SciVal)


In this commentary, we discuss perils of authentic leadership theory (ALT) in a modest effort to help weed out one theory that has gone amiss to pave the way for new ideas. We make an argument for why ALT is not only wrong in a harmless manner, but it may be outright perilous to leadership scholars, scholarship and those who believe in it. It may undermine academic work, delegitimize university institutions, make false promises to organizations, and cause identity trouble through encouraging managers and others overeager to live up to the proposed formula. We argue that leadership and authenticity should be kept separate as interests and themes of study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-490
Number of pages8
Issue number4
Early online date27 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The work was supported by Jan Wallanders och Tom Hedelius Stiftelse samt Tore Browaldhs Stiftelse.


  • Authenticity
  • critique
  • identity
  • leadership
  • research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Strategy and Management


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