The Impact of Good Leadership on the Well-Being of your Employees

The July Global Update is dedicated to the link between leadership style and employee health based on a highly interesting article in the current issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (J Occup Environ Med. 2013;55(7):772-8). The article on „the Influence of Transformational Leadership on Employee Well-Being“ highlights the results of a survey of companies in the IT sector in Germany.

With the advent of the concept of well-being and the rise of mental disease among employees as well as disengagement at the workplace more focus is being placed on the psychosocial working environment, specifically what role managers or leaders play with regard to the health of the employees they supervise. Transformational leadership is valued for stimulating innovation and worker performance and comprised of four main elements (“the 4 I’s”):

  1. Idealized influence
  2. Inspirational motivation (corresponding with Antonovsky’s sense of coherence theory)
  3. Intellectual stimulation
  4. Individualized consideration

Workers at six German IT companies were asked to evaluate their managers’ leadership style and at the same time complete the WHO’s Well-Being Index. The results revealed that employees perceiving a higher degree of transformational leadership are more likely to experience well-being. The effect of transformational leadership remained significant after accounting for other factors linked to well-being, such as age, education, and job strain.

These findings add to other studies (in different sectors), which state that a transformational style can favorably affect employee well-being. The authors recommend teaching managers the skills of transformational leadership, e.g. recognizing the needs of others or resolving conflicts, via training workshops as part of a comprehensive workplace health promotion program.