A comparison of authentic and transformational leadership in sport

Ella Malloy, Maria Kavussanu

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Transformational and authentic leadership are two models of leadership, which have some similarities and are relevant to sport. However, these leadership models are also distinct and consequently may predict athlete outcomes differently. Authentic leadership has received little attention in sport and so research is needed to examine how it is unique in terms of what it adds to dominant sport leadership models. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether authentic leadership (a) is empirically distinct from transformational leadership and (b) adds to transformational leadership by explaining unique variance in commitment and enjoyment. A total of 421 (227 female, Mage = 20.32) team sport athletes took part in the study by completing a questionnaire. Authentic leadership was correlated to transformational leadership, suggesting transformational and authentic leadership show some convergent validity. However, Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) revealed that authentic leadership also shows discriminant validity to transformational leadership and has incremental predictive power above that of transformational leadership, in terms of predicting athletes’ enjoyment and commitment. Our findings enhance our understanding of authentic leadership in sport and clearly show that it is distinct from transformational leadership. They also highlight the importance of authentic leadership and how it adds to transformational leadership in terms of predicting athletes’ commitment and enjoyment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)636-646
JournalJournal of Applied Social Psychology
Issue number7
Early online date5 May 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 May 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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