Using authentic leadership based on the principles of positive psychology to increase employee engagement in a higher education setting

Research output: Working paper

Abstract

This paper aims to identify whether using authentic leadership, based on the principles of positive psychology, can increase employee engagement in the Higher Education sector. Specifically, the research explores the communication factors that link employee engagement with authentic leadership based on the principles of positive psychology.
The research used a case study design within the Faculty of the Creative Industries at Southampton Solent University, now the School of Business, Law and Communication. Using the repertory grid technique (RGT) each participant produced dichotomous constructs to explain their personal world view of course leadership at undergraduate level.
It was found that authentic course leaders demonstrated best practice around the management of change, involvement in big-issues, understanding of personal contribution, empowerment and involvement in every day decisions. Furthermore, the research demonstrated a hypothesised link between authentic leadership, positive psychology, employee engagement and enhanced performance.
The research concluded that the top five communication factors associated with employee engagement were: ‘Communicating a clear vision, Trust, Collaboration, Empowerment and the importance of being listened to’, with ‘Collaboration’ being the most important. In addition, it was found that these communication factors were associated with enhanced work role performance, when identified alongside authentic leadership (being ‘credible’, ‘focused’ and ‘confident’), and the key signature strength ‘authenticity’ connected with positive psychology.

Keywords: Authentic leadership, Employee Engagement, Higher Education, Positive Psychology, Repertory Grid Technique
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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