Authors, Title and Publication

Men, L. R., & Stacks, D. W. (2014). The effects of authentic leadership on strategic internal communication and employee-organization relationships. Journal of Public Relations Research, 26(4), 301-324.


Organizational leadership influences strategic internal communication in several ways. First, leadership influences organizational infrastructures, such as the development of organizational culture, structure, and communication climate. Second, leaders at different levels play an important role in pushing or cascading messages until they reach every employee, and pass along employee voices to top management. Studies have consistently suggested that immediate supervisors are employees’ preferred source of information, and have more credibility with employees compared to senior executives. Leadership communication represents a major component of an organization’s internal communication system, in addition to the organization’s mass media communication and social networks among employees. This study examines how a value-based supervisory leadership style, authentic leadership, characterized by high self-awareness, internalized moral perspectives, fair and balanced information processing and decision making, and relational transparency influences strategic internal communication practice and employee-organization relationships.

A web survey of 402 employees working in medium-sized and large corporations in the United States revealed that authentic leadership is antecedent factor that plays a critical role in nurturing an organization’s symmetrical and transparent communication system, which in turn, cultivates quality employee–organization relationships. An organization’s symmetrical communication worldview greatly fosters its day-to-day transparent communication practice. Transparent communication, characterized by information substantiality, accountability, and employee participation, largely contributes to employee trust, control mutuality, commitment, and satisfaction. The impact of symmetrical communication on employees’ relational outcomes is fully mediated via transparent communication.

Implications for Practice

Organizations should 1) develop two-way, employee-centered, and responsive symmetrical communication system to guide daily communication practice; 2) listen to the concerns of their employees and invite their participation in determining the information they want or need to know; 3) provide complete, detailed, substantial, fair, and accurate information in a timely manner and be consistent in its values, words, and actions; 4) build a cross-enterprise communication system encompassing all leaders, managers, and employees; and 5) provide necessary training sessions to equip leaders with effective authentic leadership that will facilitate strategic internal communication and develop leadership communication competence and skills.

Location of Article

The article is available online at: (abstract free, purchase full article)

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