The Interactive Effect of a Leader’s Sense of Uniqueness and Sense of Belongingness on Followers’ Perceptions of Leader Authenticity

  • Michelle Xue ZhengEmail author
  • Yingjie Yuan
  • Marius van Dijke
  • David De Cremer
  • Alain Van Hiel
Original Paper


Researchers have emphasized the value of authenticity, but not much is known about what makes a person authentic in the eyes of others. Our research takes an interpersonal perspective to examine the determinants of followers’ perceptions of leader authenticity. Building on social identity theory, we propose that two fundamental self-identifications–a leader’s sense of uniqueness and sense of belongingness–interact to influence followers’ perceptions of a leader’s authenticity via perceptions of a leader’s self-concept consistency. In a field study conducted among leader–follower dyads and in a controlled laboratory experiment, we find that when a leader feels a low sense of belongingness, there is a positive relationship between a leader’s sense of uniqueness and perceptions of leader authenticity. When a leader feels a low sense of uniqueness, there is a positive relationship between a leader’s sense of belongingness and perceptions of leader authenticity. This is because followers perceive this leader as having high self-concept consistency.


Sense of belongingness Sense of uniqueness Perceived leader authenticity Self-concept consistency Social identity theory 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the studies.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michelle Xue Zheng
    • 1
    Email author
  • Yingjie Yuan
    • 2
  • Marius van Dijke
    • 3
    • 4
  • David De Cremer
    • 5
    • 6
  • Alain Van Hiel
    • 7
  1. 1.China Europe International Business School (CEIBS)ShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Faculty of Economics and BusinessUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Rotterdam School of ManagementErasmus UniversityRotterdamThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Nottingham Business SchoolNottingham Trent UniversityNottinghamUK
  5. 5.Judge Business SchoolUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  6. 6.Department of Management and OrganisationNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore
  7. 7.Department of Developmental, Personality and Social PsychologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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