This summary is provided by the IPR Organizational Communication Research Center

Technological advancements continue to bring about remarkable transformations to our economy and the workforce. An important question many organizations face is: How can organizations effectively engage with the workforce in this drastically transformed world?

We conducted an online survey of employees in the U.S. (N = 727), examining the impact of authentic leadership and transparent organizational communication on employees’ contextual performance and turnover intention, via employee engagement. Key insights from our study are presented herein.

Authentic Leaders and Transparent Communication as Combined Resources
Authentic leaders have a clear understanding of their own strengths, weaknesses, and core values and beliefs. They remain visible to subordinating employees, focus on what is ethical to do, take the lead when facing risks, prioritize followers’ development, and make sure their communication is transparent and perceived as authentic (Avolio et al., 2004). Organizations embracing transparent communication disseminate truthful, substantial, and complete information that is easily accessible and contains sufficient details relevant to employee needs. They are open to employee criticism and forthcoming with information that even may be damaging to the organization. These two key concepts have been identified as resources to employees as they navigate different demands and engage at work (Jiang & Shen, 2020).

Our survey results showed that 1) authentic leadership and transparent communication are significant drivers of employee engagement; 2) employee engagement is the core driver of both contextual performance and turnover intention; 3) authentic leadership does not have any direct impact on employees turnover intention and contextual performance; 4) transparent organizational communication directly influences employees’ turnover intention; 5) authentic leadership and transparent communication can only indirectly contribute to employees’ contextual performance through employee engagement.

Professional Implications
So, what does it mean for practice? We present the following suggestions:

1.     To better engage employees, organizations should train leaders to practice transparency in interactions with employees, such as individual meetings, social listening on organizations’ social media outlets, employee surveys, and other forms of soliciting employee feedback.

2.     Organizations need to rethink the role of middle managers and lower-level managers who are immediate supervisors of employees, shifting away from performance and employee retention to engagement ambassadors.

3.     Leadership training inside an organization is much needed — identifying, promoting, training authentic supervisors in personnel selection and human resources development, and promoting perceived transparency in a system of digital and face-to-face leadership and communication practices.

Note: A full-length version of the work is available upon request. Please email if interested.

Jiang, H. & Shen, H. (2020). Toward a relational theory of employee engagement: Understanding authenticity, transparency, and employee behaviors. International Journal of Business Communication. doi:
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 behaviors. Leadership Quarterly, 15(6), 801–823. leaqua.2004.09.003

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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