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The authentic leadership framework was explored within the context of U.S. small business owners to determine whether interference between gender and leader identities was an antecedent to authentic leadership and whether owner gender functions as a moderator. Additionally, associates within these small businesses were assessed to determine whether their job satisfaction and performance was an outcome of authentic leadership and whether gender identity, work identity, and identity interference function as mediators within the authentic leadership framework. A total of 155 owners and associates from 63 small businesses from Ohio, Maryland, and California were studied. Structural equation modeling was used at the individual level of analysis. Three leader models, which included the owner and their associate(s), were investigated: all genders (n = 155), women only (n = 75), and men only (n = 65). For each leader model, a unique trimmed path analysis was developed based upon goodness of fit indices. Findings were mixed and varied by leader model. As hypothesized for all leader models, interference was revealed to be an antecedent; the less interference between gender and leader identities the owner experienced, the more the owner was considered an authentic leader. Leader identity interference was significantly related to the authentic leadership subscales of relational transparency, for the all gender and male only models and, to self-awareness, balanced processing, and internalized moral perspective, for the women only model. Leader identity interference was revealed to be negatively related to associate satisfaction. As hypothesized, leader gender was revealed to moderate authentic leadership: female owners experienced more identity interference than male owners, and female owners’ associates reported greater job satisfaction. All leader models revealed that associate job satisfaction was a significant outcome of authentic leadership. However, no support was found that job satisfaction mediated the relationship between authentic leadership and performance. Finally, only the male leadership model revealed the presence of mediation. Gender identity and work role identity had a small positive affect on the covariance between authentic leadership and associate satisfaction. The implications of these results are discussed relative to authentic leadership, role incongruity, relational authenticity, gender, and leadership development.

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