Do Ideals Differ and Matter? An Investigation of Authentic Leadership Ideals Among Norwegian Military Officers Across Generations – and Its Impact on Leadership Practice
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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The aim of the present study was to learn more about the content of leadership ideals among Norwegian military officers, and to what degree such ideals influence the officers’ actual leadership practice. We have also explored possible generational differences between generation X officers (born between 1965 and 1980) and generation Y officers (born between 1980 and 1998) related to leadership ideals. The sample consisted of 117 younger and 91 older Norwegian officers. The ideals framing the study were operationalized as authentic leadership (AL), portrayed in the literature as an ideal form of leadership. The results showed that the officers in both generations perceived all dimensions of AL as ideal. Younger officers, however, perceived an internalized moral perspective and balanced processing as less ideal than their older colleagues. No relationship between AL ideals and practice was found for the sample, after controlling for the effect of self-evaluations. However, the results indicated a positive influence of ideals among the young officers. These results are discussed in relation to the existing literature and practical implications. Suggestions for future studies are also outlined.