The tendency to present authentic leadership as a set of project manager attributes (e.g., characteristics, behaviours, competencies) limits the potential of this concept to help address the challenges of contemporary projects. Using the lens of self-identity and drawing on life-story interviews with Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of public project-based organisations in the UK construction industry, this paper offers an enrichment of the authentic leadership concept that takes into account situated nuances and struggles encountered in the lived experiences of leaders. The findings reveal a dialogical process between more coherent narratives and personalised stories articulated by the leaders, continued interweaving stories of self and the context, and ongoing efforts to cope with relational anxieties, authenticity and self-identity struggles. It is shown that these processes are situated in cultural values, roles, institutionalised views of leadership and the broader context, and shape the contextual conditions for project work.
- Authentic leadership
- Project-based organisations