Authentic Leadership and Ethical Behavior of Employees in Commercial Banks in Kenya


  • Crispin A. Mbata University of Nairobi
  • Mercy Florah Oluoch University of Nairobi
  • Muindi Florence University of Nairobi



This study conceptualized and tested the relationship between authentic leadership and ethical behavior of employees in commercial banks in Kenya. Previous researchers have argued that authentic leadership influences performance of organizations. Few studies that have looked at the relationship between authentic leadership and ethical behavior of employees have reported conflicting results. As a result, there was need to conduct more studies to establish the existence of the relationship between the study variables. The main objective of the study was to establish the relationship between authentic leadership and ethical behavior of employees in commercial banks in Kenya. The study specifically aimed at establishing the effect of authentic leadership on ethical behavior of employees. A descriptive survey design used structured questionnaires to collect data from 384 employees of commercial banks in Kenya. Inferential statistics were used to analyze the data. Hypothesis test was done using simple linear regression analysis. The study findings indicated that authentic leadership had a significant influence on ethical behavior of employees.  The findings made significant contribution to knowledge by validating the propositions of the theory that informed the study in commercial banks in Kenya. Further, the results provided value to policy makers in human resource management and commercial banks as far as entrenching authentic leadership in their organizations is concerned. The study therefore recommends that the commercial banks in Kenya leadership promotes authentic leadership so as to improve ethical behavior of employees in their respective banks. The study proposes that future studies consider other contexts and different research designs.

Keywords: Authentic Leadership, Ethical Behavior & Commercial Banks

Author Biographies

Crispin A. Mbata, University of Nairobi

PhD Candidate, Department of Business Administration, University of Nairobi-Kenya

Mercy Florah Oluoch, University of Nairobi

Department of Business Administration, University of Nairobi-Kenya

Muindi Florence, University of Nairobi

Department of Business Administration, University of Nairobi-Kenya


Avolio, B. J., & Gardner, W. L. (2005). Authentic leadership development: Getting to the root of positive forms of leadership. The Leadership Quarterly, 16(3).

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: 801-823.

Avolio, B.J., &Walumbwa, F.O. (2015). Authentic Leadership: Moving HR Leaders to a Higher Level" Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management, 25, 273–304. Elsevier Ltd.

Central Bank of Kenya Fraud Investigation Unit (2017). Unpublished crime and incident reports. Directorate of Criminal Investigations, National Police Service. Nairobi Kenya.

Bowen, D. E., & Ostroff, C. (2004). Understanding HRM–firm performance linkages: The role of the “strength” of the HRM system. Academy of Management Review, 29,203–221.

Cianci, A. M., Hannah, S. T., Roberts, R. P., & Tsakumis, G. T. (2014). The effects of authentic leadership on followers' ethical decision-making in the face of temptation: An experimental study. The Leadership Quarterly, 25(3), 581, 594.doi: 10.1016/j.leaqua.2013.12.001

Cooper, D. R. & Schindler, P. S. (2006). Business research methods. New Delhi: McGraw Hill.

Covelli, B. J. & Mason, I., (2017). Linking Theory to Practice: Authentic Leadership. Academy of Strategic Management Journal,16 (3)1-10.

Datta, B. (2015). Assessing the effectiveness of authentic leadership. International Journal of Leadership Studies, 9(1), 62-75.

Dorasamy, N., & Abdel-Baki, A. M. (2014). The inception of ethical banking: An imperative transformation in post-revolution Egypt. International Business & Economics Research Journal, 13(3).

Eagly, A.H & Carli, L. (2008). The truth about how Women become Leaders. Journal of women in educational leadership

Fetinuic, V., & Luchian, I. (2014). Banking ethics: Main conceptions and problems. Annals of the University of Petroşani, Economics, 14(1), 91-102.

Gardner, W. L., Avolio, B. J., Luthans, F., May, D., & Walumbwa, F. O. (2005). “Can you see the real me?” a self-based model of authentic leader and follower development. The Leadership Quarterly, 16(3), 343-372. doi: 10.1016/j.leaqua.2005.03.003

Gardner, W. L., Cogliser, C. C., Davis, K. M., & Dickens, M. P. (2011). Authentic leadership: A review of the literature and research agenda. The Leadership Quarterly, 22(6), 1120-1145.doi: 10.1016/j.leaqua.2011.09.007

Geeta, M., Pooja J, & Mishra P., N. (2016). Ethical Behaviour in Organizations: A Literature Review. Journal of Research in Business and Management Volume 4 (1) 01-06 ISSN (Online): 2347-3002

Gilbert, C., De Winne, S., & Sels, L. (2015). Strong HRM processes and line managers' effective HRM implementation: A balanced view. Human Resource Management Journal, 25, 600–616.

Gill, C., Gardner, W., Claeys, J., & Vangronsvelt, K. (2018). Using theory on authentic leadership to build a strong human resource management system. Human Resource Management Review.

Jasevičienė, F. (2012). The ethics of banking: Analysis and estimates. Eakonomik, 91(13).

Jones, T.M. (1991). Ethical Decision Making by Individuals in Organizations: An Issue Contingent Model, Academy of Management Review, 16 (2): 366–395.

Kapeitn, M. (2011). Understanding unethical behavior by unraveling ethical culture. Human relations 64 (6) 843-869.

Kaptein, M. (2008). Development of a Measure of Unethical Behavior in the Workplace: A Stakeholder perspective, Journal of Management, 34: 978–1008.

Kaptein, M., & Wempe, J. (2002). Three General Theories of Ethics and the Integrative Role of Integrity Theory. Research gate.

Kenya Bankers Association (2001). The banking codes. Setting standards of Banking practice. Nairobi Kenya.

Kour, M. (2021). Ethics and Ethical Practices in Banks: A review of Literature. International Journal of Business Ethics in Developing Economies 9 (2) 2020, 27-32

Leroy, H., Palanski, M.E., & Simons, T. (2012). Authentic leadership and behavioral integrity as drivers of follower commitment and performance. Journal of business ethics, 107(3), 225-264

Lewis, P.V. (1985). Defining Business Ethics: Journal of Business Ethics, 4: 377–85.

Lopez, Garcia-Guiu, C., Alonso, M.F., Morales, M. M, & Moriano-Leon, M., A., J. (2015) “Authentic Leadership, Group Cohesion and Group Identification in Security and Emergency Teams”, Psicotherna, 27(1), 59-64.

Mathenge, D. G. (2013). The value system of commercial banking in Kenya: An ethical perspective. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 4(1), 153-163.

Mugenda, O. M & Mugenda, A.G. (2003). Research Methods. Quantitative & Qualitative approaches. African Center for Technology Studies- Nairobi Kenya.

Muller, R., Turner, Andersen, E.S., Jingting, S., & Kralnes, O (2014). Ethics, Trust and Governance in the Temporary organizations. Project Management Journal 45(4), 39-54.

Northouse, P. G. (2010). Leadership: Theory and practice (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, C. A. SAGE Publications.

Palanski, M. E., & Yammarino, F. J. (2009). Integrity and Leadership: A Multi-Level Conceptual Framework. Leadership Quarterly, 20, 405-420.

Sanders, K., & Frenkel, S. (2011). HR-line management relations: Characteristics and effects. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 22, 1611–1617.

Sanchez-Runde, C., Nardon, L. & Steers, R.M. (2011). Looking beyond Western leadership models: Implications for global managers. Organizational Dynamics, 40, 207-213.

Shamir, B., & Eilam, G. (2005). “What's your story?” A life-stories approach to authentic leadership development. The Leadership Quarterly, 16(3), 395–417.

Shea, K.L. (2016). The Impact of Authentic Leadership on Ethical Behavior. Defense Acquisition University (DAU) Senior Service College Fellow Sterling Heights, MI

Sikora, D. M., & Ferris, G. R. (2014). Strategic human resource practice implementation: The critical role of line management. Human Resource Management Review, 24,271–281.

Trevino, L., Brown, M., & Hartman, L. (2003). A qualitative investigation of perceived executive ethical leadership: Perceptions from inside and outside the executive suite. Human Relations, 56, 5–37.

Walumbwa, F. O., Wang, P., Wang, H., Schaubroeck,J., & Avolio, B.J.,(2010). Psychological processes linking authentic leadership to follower behaviors. Leadership quarterly, 21:901-14.

Walumbwa, F.O., Avolio, B.J., Gardner, W.L., Wensing, T.S, & Peterson, S.J. (2008). Authentic Leadership: Development and validation of a Theory-Based Measure. Journal of Management, 34, 89–126.

Wong, C., Laschinger, S. & Cummings, G. (2010). Authentic leadership and nurses’ voice behavior and perceptions of care quality. Journal of Nursing Management, 18(2), 889-900.

World Bank (2003). Bank Governance, The balance between official oversight and Market Discipline, Central Bank of Barbados, Luigi.

Zhang, H., Everett, A., Elkin, G. & Cone, M. (2012). Authentic leadership theory development: Theorizing on Chinese philosophy. Asia Pacific Business Review, 18(4), 587-605.




How to Cite

Mbata, C. A., Oluoch, M. F., & Muindi, F. (2023). Authentic Leadership and Ethical Behavior of Employees in Commercial Banks in Kenya. Journal of Human Resource & Leadership, 7(1), 99–113.