Follower Gender and Authentic Leadership: Perspectives from the Middle East

  • Gaye Karacay
  • Behice Ertenu
  • Hayat Kabasakal
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Leadership and Followership book series (PASTLEFO)


This study aims to explore how perceptions of male and female followers differ regarding their emphasis on different attributes of authentic leadership. The Middle East constitutes an interesting area to analyse gender-based perceptions due to relatively high gender inequality. Based on gender-identity theory, the authors argue that to acknowledge a leader as being authentic, women would value a leader’s interdependence while men prefer independence. Conducting 105 in-depth interviews in 10 Middle Eastern countries, this study examines the significance of followers’ gender in cognizance of authentic leadership. The findings show that although Middle Eastern men and women have many common convictions about authentic leaders, there are also significant differences in their expectations, notably, while men prefer authentic leaders to be autonomous, women expect them to show care and nurturance.


Authentic leadership Followers’ gender Gender-identity Middle East 


  1. Aquino, K., & Reed, A. (2002). The self-importance of moral identity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 1423–1440. Scholar
  2. Avolio, B. J., & Gardner, W. L. (2005). Authentic leadership development: Getting to the root of positive forms of leadership. The Leadership Quarterly, 16(3), 315–338. Scholar
  3. Avolio, B. J., Gardner, W. L., Walumbwa, F. O., Luthans, F., & May, D. R. (2004). Unlocking the mask: A look at the process by which authentic leaders impact follower attitudes and behaviours. The Leadership Quarterly, 15(6), 801–823. Scholar
  4. Barakat, H. (1993). The Arab world: Society, culture, and state. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bass, B. M., & Steidlmeier, P. (1999). Ethics, character, and authentic transformational leadership behaviour. The Leadership Quarterly, 10(2), 181–217. Scholar
  6. Begley, P. T. (2001). In pursuit of authentic school leadership practices. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 4(4), 353–365. Scholar
  7. Belenky, M., Clinchy, B., Goldberger, N., & Torule, J. (1986). Women’s ways of knowing: The development of self, voice, and mind. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  8. Betz, N. E., & Fitzgerald, L. F. (1987). The career psychology of women. Orlando, FL: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  9. Bhindi, N., & Duignan, P. (1997). Leadership for a new century: Authenticity, intentionality, spirituality, and sensibility. Educational Management and Administration, 25(2), 117–132. Scholar
  10. Bill, J. A., & Leiden, C. (1979). Politics in the Middle East. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.Google Scholar
  11. Brewer, M., & Lui, L. (1989). The primacy of age and sex in the structure of person categories. Social Cognition, 7(3), 262–274. Scholar
  12. Burke, P. (1980). The self: Measurement implications from a symbolic interactionist perspective. Social Psychology Quarterly, 43(1), 18–29. Scholar
  13. Chodorow, N. (1978). The reproduction of mothering. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  14. Cross, S., & Madson, L. (1997). Models of the self: Self-construals and gender. Psychological Bulletin, 122(1), 5–37. Scholar
  15. Eagly, A. H. (1987). Sex differences in social behaviour: A social-role interpretation. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  16. Eagly, A. H. (2005). Achieving relational authenticity in leadership: Does gender matter? The Leadership Quarterly, 16(3), 459–474. Scholar
  17. Erickson, R. J. (1995). The importance of authenticity for self and society. Symbolic Interaction, 18(2), 121–144. Scholar
  18. Erkutlu, H., & Chafra, J. (2013). Effects of trust and psychological contract violation on authentic leadership and organizational deviance. Management Research Review, 36(9), 828–848. Scholar
  19. Ertenu, B., Karacay, G., Asarkaya, C., & Kabasakal, H. (2011). Linking the worldly mindset with an authentic leadership approach: An exploratory study in a middle- eastern context. In S. Turnbull, P. Case, G. Edwards, D. Schedlitzki, & P. Simpson (Eds.), Worldly leadership: Alternative wisdoms for a complex world (pp. 206–222). Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  20. Gardner, W. L., Avolio, B. J., Luthans, F., May, D. R., & Walumbwa, F. O. (2005). Can you see the real me? A self-based model of authentic leader and follower development. The Leadership Quarterly, 16(3), 343–372. Scholar
  21. Gardner, W. L., Cogliser, C. C., Davis, K. M., & Dickens, M. P. (2011). Authentic leadership: A review of the literature and research agenda. The Leadership Quarterly, 22(6), 1120–1145. Scholar
  22. Geertz, C. (1975). On the nature of anthropological understanding. American Scientist, 63(1), 47–53. Retrieved from
  23. George, W., & Sims, P. (2007). True north: Discover your authentic leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  24. Gilligan, C. (1982). In a different voice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Gilligan, C. (1987). Moral orientation and moral development. In E. Kittay & D. Meyers (Eds.), Women and moral theory. Totowa, NJ: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  26. Goffee, R., & Jones, G. (2005). Managing authenticity. Harvard Business Review, 83(12), 85–94.Google Scholar
  27. Goldman, B. M., & Kernis, M. H. (2002). The role of authenticity in healthy functioning and subjective well-being. Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association, 5(6), 18–20. Retrieved from
  28. Harter, S. (2002). Authenticity. In C. R. Snyder & S. Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology (pp. 382–394). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Hayes, A. F., & Krippendorff, K. (2007). Answering the call for a standard reliability measure for coding data. Communication Methods and Measures, 1(1), 77–89. Scholar
  30. Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture’s consequences: Comparing values, behaviours, institutions, and organizations across nations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  31. House, R. J., Hanges, P. J., Javidan, M., Dorfman, P. W., & Gupta, V. (2004). Leadership, culture and organizations: The Globe study of 62 societies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  32. Ilies, R., Morgeson, F. P., & Nahrgang, J. D. (2005). Authentic leadership and eudaemonic well-being: Understanding leader–follower outcomes. The Leadership Quarterly, 16(3), 373–394. Scholar
  33. Kabasakal, H., & Bodur, M. (2002). Arabic cluster: A bridge between east and west. Journal of World Business, 37(1), 40–54. Scholar
  34. Kabasakal, H., Dastmalchian, A., Karacay, G., & Bayraktar, S. (2012). Leadership and culture in the MENA region: An analysis of the GLOBE project. Journal of World Business, 47(4), 519–529. Scholar
  35. Kagitçibasi, C. (1994). A critical appraisal of individualism and collectivism. Toward a new formulation. In U. Kim, H. C. Triandis, C. Kagitçibasi, S.-C. Choi, & G. Yoon (Eds.), Individualism and collectivism: Theory, method, and applications (pp. 52–65). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  36. Kernis, M. H. (2003). Toward a conceptualization of optimal self-esteem. Psychological Inquiry, 14(1), 1–26. Scholar
  37. Kernis, M. H., & Goldman, B. M. (2006). A multicomponent conceptualization of authenticity: Theory and research. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 38, pp. 283–357). San Diego: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  38. Kihlstrom, J., & Klein, S. (1994). The self as a knowledge structure. In R. S. Wyer Jr. & K. Thomas (Eds.), Handbook of social cognition (Vol. 1, pp. 153–208). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  39. Kohlberg, L. (1969). Stage and sequence: The cognitive-development approach to socialization. In D. Goslin (Ed.), Handbook of socialization theory and research. Chicago, IL: Rand McNally & Company.Google Scholar
  40. Krippendorff, K. (2004). Content analysis: An introduction to its methodology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  41. Lord, R. G., Brown, D. J., Harvey, J. L., & Hall, R. J. (2001). Contextual constraints on prototype generation and their multilevel consequences for leadership perceptions. The Leadership Quarterly, 12(3), 311–338. Scholar
  42. Luthans, F., & Avolio, B. J. (2003). Authentic leadership: A positive developmental approach. In K. S. Cameron, J. E. Dutton, & R. E. Quinn (Eds.), Positive organizational scholarship (pp. 241–261). San Francisco: Barrett-Koehler.Google Scholar
  43. Maccoby, E. (1990). Gender and relationships. A developmental account. The American Psychologist, 45(4), 513–520. Scholar
  44. Markus, H., & Kitayama, S. (1991). Culture and the self: Implications for cognition, emotion, and motivation. Psychological Review, 98, 224–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Moghadam, V. M. (1993). Modernizing women: Gender and social change in the Middle East. Boulder, CO: Lynee Rienner Publishers.Google Scholar
  46. Özkan, S., & Ceylan, A. (2012). Multi-level analysis of authentic leadership from a Turkish construction engineers perspective. South East European Journal of Economics and Business (Online), 7(2), 101–114.
  47. Ridgeway, C. (1997). Interaction and the conservation of gender inequality: Considering employment. American Sociology Review, 62(2), 218–235. Scholar
  48. Ridgeway, C., & Smith-Lovin, L. (1999). The gender system and interaction. Annual Review of Sociology, 25, 191–216. Scholar
  49. Senam, M., Rashid, K., Sarkawi, A., & Zaini, R. (2014). Construction project leadership from the perspective of Islam. International Journal of Islamic Thought, 6, 46–56. Retrieved from
  50. Shweder, R., & Bourne, E. (1984). Does the concept of person vary cross-culturally? In R. A. Shweder & R. A. LeVine (Eds.), Culture theory: Essays on mind, self, and emotion (pp. 158–199). Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Spitzmuller, M., & Ilies, R. (2010). Do they [all] see my true self? Leader’s relational authenticity and followers’ assessments of transformational leadership. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 19(3), 304–332. Scholar
  52. Stets, J., & Burke, P. (1996). Gender, control, and interaction. Social Psychology Quarterly, 59(3), 193–220. Scholar
  53. Stets, J., & Burke, P. (2000). Identity theory and social identity theory. Social Psychology Quarterly, 63(3), 224–237. Scholar
  54. Stryker, S., & Serpe, R. (1982). Commitment, identity salience, and role behaviour: A theory and research example. In W. Ickes & S. Eric (Eds.), Personality, roles, and social behaviour (pp. 199–218). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Tabak, A., Polat, M., Cosar, S., & Turkoz, T. (2013). A research on the consequences of authentic leadership. Bogazici Journal Review of Social, Economic, and Administrative Studies, 27(2), 63–82.  10.21773/boun.27.2.4.Google Scholar
  56. Tajfel, H. (1981). Human groups and social identity. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  57. Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. (1979). An integrative theory of intergroup conflict. In W. G. Austin & S. Worchel (Eds.), The social psychology of intergroup relations (pp. 33–47). Monterey, CA: Brooks-Cole.Google Scholar
  58. Triandis, H. C. (1989). The self and social behaviour in differing cultural contexts. Psychological Review, 96(3), 506–520. Scholar
  59. Uhl-Bien, M., Riggio, R. E., Lowe, K. B., & Carsten, M. K. (2014). Followership theory: A review and research agenda. The Leadership Quarterly, 25(1), 83–104. Scholar
  60. Walumbwa, F., Avolio, B., Gardner, W., Wernsing, T., & Peterson, S. (2008). Authentic leadership: Development and validation of a theory-based measure. Journal of Management, 34(1), 89–126. Scholar
  61. Walumbwa, F. O., Wang, P., Wang, H., Schaubroeck, J., & Avolio, B. J. (2010). Psychological processes linking authentic leadership to follower behaviours. The Leadership Quarterly, 21(5), 901–914. Scholar
  62. Whitehead, G. (2009). Adolescent leadership development: Building a case for an authenticity framework. Educational Management Administration and Leadership, 37(6), 847–872. Scholar
  63. World Economic Forum. (2013). The Arab world competitiveness report. Cologny, Geneva, Switzerland. Retrieved from
  64. World Economic Forum. (2015). Global gender gap report. Cologny, Geneva, Switzerland. Retrieved from
  65. World Economic Forum. (2016). The global competitiveness report 2016–2017. Cologny, Geneva, Switzerland. Retrieved from
  66. Zahra, S. A. (2011). Doing research in the (new) middle east: Sailing with the wind. Academy of Management Perspectives, 25(4), 6–21. Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gaye Karacay
    • 1
  • Behice Ertenu
    • 2
  • Hayat Kabasakal
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Industrial EngineeringIstanbul Technical UniversityMacka, IstanbulTurkey
  2. 2.Department of ManagementBogazici UniversityBebek, IstanbulTurkey

Personalised recommendations