Growing evidence points to the role of authentic leadership in enhancing followership. Yet little is known about the factors that determine whether followers perceive leaders as displaying authentic leadership. In the present research, we examine the impact of leaders' championing of collective (group) interests on authentic leadership. Study 1 shows experimentally that compared to a leader who advances personal interests, a leader who advances the interests of a collective is (a) perceived as offering more authentic leadership and (b) more likely to inspire followership. Findings are followed up in a field study revealing that leaders' championing of collective interests is associated with greater perceived authentic leadership and followership (in terms of voting intentions). Furthermore, results indicate that shared self-categorization is a boundary condition of these relationships such that the relationship between a leader's championing of collective (group) interests and authentic leadership (and followership) is more pronounced for perceivers who self-categorize as members of the group that a leader is leading (rather than of a different group). In sum, findings suggest that leaders are regarded as more authentic to the extent that they are true to the collective identity of the group that they lead.
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