An engaging leadership style may boost employee engagement

July 10, 2022

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An engaging leadership style may boost employee engagement

A new analysis suggests that a particular leadership style dubbed “engaging leadership” can boost employees’ engagement and enhance team effectiveness within the workplace. The researchers present these findings in the journal PLOS One.

An employee who is engaged typically has a positive state of mind relating to their work and shows vigor, dedication, and absorption in their work. Previous research suggests that more engaged employees tend to have a greater sense of well-being which results in better job performance.

According to the present researchers, prior studies also suggest that a certain style of leadership known as engaging leadership—involving leaders who fulfill employees’ need for autonomy, feeling competent, and feeling cared for—may boost employee engagement. However, they say most studies of workplace leadership styles have focused on a single point in time, without analyzing potential effects over time.

To provide new insights, the researchers explored the impact of an engaged leadership style on work engagement and team effectiveness of 1,048 employees across 90 teams within a Dutch workplace. Participants each took two surveys, one year apart, which included questions about their supervisors’ level of engaging leadership, their own work engagement, and other personal and team characteristics.

Statistical analysis of the responses suggests that supervisors perceived as engaged leaders in the initial survey did indeed enhance employee engagement as captured in the second survey. This impact appeared to occur via a boost in employees’ personal psychological resources of optimism, resiliency, self-efficacy, and flexibility—these results are in line with evidence from previous studies.

Similarly, engaged leaders appeared to enhance team effectiveness by boosting team resources, which consisted of performance feedback, trust in management, communication, and participation in decision-making. Team resources also appeared to affect individual employee engagement.

These findings support the use of engaging leadership to boost employee engagement and team effectiveness in the workplace.

What the researchers say: “A leader who inspires, strengthens, and connects team members fosters a shared perception of available resources (in terms of performance feedback, trust in management, communication, and participation in decision-making), and a greater psychological capital (i.e., self-efficacy, optimism, resilience, and flexibility),” said the lead author.

So, what? I am not sure of the difference between “engaged leadership” and “transformational leadership” which has been thoroughly studied since the late 1960s. TL has been shown to be 62% more effective in terms of engagement and output than competing leadership styles.

The value of this study is its breath. Alicia and I have noticed that leaders and managers that employ either an “engaging” or “transformational” style are far more effective than others in the organizations that we work with. And yet despite all the research and the practical demonstrations of TL’s effectiveness, it is still very underused. Often the problem is that the organization’s Board and/or C-suite are so mesmerized by short-term results, output, goals, and targets that the underlying health of the enterprise and its employees are forgotten.

Dr Bob Murray

Bob Murray, MBA, PhD (Clinical Psychology), is an internationally recognised expert in strategy, leadership, influencing, human motivation and behavioural change.

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