Ilke Inceoglu and colleagues (University of Exeter, University of Surrey) reviewed research on leader behavior and well-being in a 2018 issue of The Leadership Quarterly. They argued that researchers have not paid enough attention to how the leader affects employee well-being. For their qualitative meta-analysis, Inceoglu and her co-authors screened over 5000 leadership studies, then closely examined almost 400, of which they selected the 71 most relevant for in depth analyses.
They identified five groupings (mediators) of how leaders affect well-being (all grounded in social and organizational theories). Here are their groupings with associated examples of leader behaviors:
- Social-cognitive: Leaders model attitudes and how to view events; they help shape the context of what is happening in the workplace and the organization; they share and clarify information and help clarify how the immediate work fits the bigger picture.
- Motivational: Leaders affect motivation in many ways, positively and negatively; leaders can use job redesign principles to make jobs more meaningful; provide opportunities and resources to help employees satisfy workplace needs.
- Affective: The emotions of the leader affect followers; events created by the leader can affect followers emotionally.
- Relational: The relationship between leader and followers can be crucial; is the leader seen as trustworthy; is the leader someone with whom followers can talk openly.
- Identification: Through words and actions leaders can foster followers’ identification with the leader, the work group, and the organization.
This is an important, sophisticated review deserving the attention of management and organizational behavior scholars. Of great benefit to future researchers will be Appendix A: a table of all 71 studies reviewed with methods and results of each.
1. I can think of many examples, both positive and negative, from my career that fit easily into these five categories. I know how they affected individual well-being and morale. My guess is you can also.
2. So what questions might this research pose to the leader concerned about the well-being of followers:
- What attitudes do you project? How do you come across to employees?
- Do you put work assignments in context or do you just task people to do things with no explanation as to why?
- Do you keep your employees informed?
- Do you look for ways to grow your employees?
- Do you know what opportunities and resources your employees need?
- Do you keep your emotions appropriate to what is needed, not explosive or exhausting to others, showing enthusiasm where warranted?
- Are you trustworthy?
- Are you a good listener, that is, an active listener?
- Are you a role model, someone with whom others identify positively?
- Do you speak positively about your organization as appropriate?
Inceoglu, I., Thomas, G., Chu, C., Plans, D., & Gerbasi, A. (2018). Leadership behavior and employee well-being: An integrated review and a future research agenda. The Leadership Quarterly, 29(1), 179-202. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.leaqua.2017.12.006
Image,"Well Being" by Nick Youngson. Obtained from Alpha Stock Images. http://www.thebluediamondgallery.com/handwriting/w/well-being.html
Use with permission: Creative Commons 3 - CC BY-SA 3.0
© John Ballard, PhD, 2018. All rights reserved.
Author of Decoding the Workplace, BEST CAREER BOOK Next Generation Indie Book Awards 2016.
Decoding the Workplace “deals with principles and practices that are timeless . . . Is this a must-have for managers and would-be managers? Yes.” Ron Riggio, Book Review, Academy of Management Learning & Education, in-press.