US Department of Defense


Date of this Version



The Leadership Quarterly 23 (2012) 502–516; doi:10.1016/j.leaqua.2011.12.004


Although theory suggests a link between authentic leadership style and follower positivity and performance, little empirical research exists to confirm this notion. Given that scholars have suggested that leadership studies have generally failed to adequately address or include organizational context in prior research, we examine whether two measures of follower positivity—positive emotions and psychological capital—mediate the relationship between authentic leadership and follower job performance in two potentially extreme contexts (i.e., a police and military organization). After first explaining why extreme contexts provide a setting whereby authentic leaders play a more direct role in impacting the positivity of followers, we test several hypotheses. Results of two studies indicated that the frequency of authentic leadership behavior exhibited by leaders was positively related to followers' job performance, and this relationship was partially mediated through followers' positive emotions (Study 1) and fully mediated through leaders' influence on followers' psychological capital (Study 2).