Engaging leadership key to team productivity

By Melissa Coade

July 1, 2022

business people-team
Workplace effectiveness is best supported by a particular kind of leadership style. (WavebreakMediaMicro/Adobe)

Scientific analysis of Dutch workers claims to have worked out how to enhance workplace effectiveness for whole teams, by looking at the potential effects of a certain leadership style over time.

Workplace effectiveness is best supported by a particular kind of leadership style, new peer-reviewed research shows. 

The so-called ‘engaging leadership’ style, characterised by leadership that makes employees feel competent, cared for and supports autonomy, also had the effect of boosting what the researchers called ‘team resources’. This comprised evidence of strong performance feedback, trust in management, communication, and participation in decision-making.

More than 1,000 workers across 90 teams were surveyed by researchers, twice and one year apart, to learn the impact of engaging supervisors. They were asked questions about their bosses’ levels 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,” the research team led by Greta Mazzetti and Wilmar Schaufeli said.

“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.”

Previous studies hypothesised more engaged employees tended to have greater well-being and better job performance. But these studies only focused on worker sentiment at a single point in time, without analysing potential effects over time.

The researchers said the findings supported the use of this leadership style to boost effectiveness in the workplace. 

“A leader who inspires, strengthens and connects team members fosters a shared perception of available resources, and a greater psychological capital (i.e., self-efficacy, optimism, resilience, and flexibility).”

“Future research could compare the effects of engaging leadership versus other leadership styles on employees and teams over time,” they added.

The research led by academics from the University of Bologna, Italy, and Utrecht University in the Netherlands was published in PLOS ONE on Thursday.


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