Employment conditions are poor. Burnout is a growing problem in the workplace, even though many companies have responded by providing employees with counselling, extended vacation time, and even free meditation apps.
Perhaps you’re still feeling down because none of these solutions deal with the root cause of your problems: your superior. Recently, research has identified the most effective methods of leadership. It also demonstrated the potential significance of focusing on improving management practises rather than merely reducing bad leadership.
The results of an analysis of 53 studies that looked at the relationship between leadership style and employee mental health are presented in this study, which has been published in the Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies. The evidence presented by this meta-analysis is much more robust than that presented by any individual study because it draws on the findings of multiple studies. Although prior studies established a connection between leadership style and psychological well-being, the present study is the first to provide an explanation for which styles are most consequential. Both the beneficial and detrimental effects of helpful and unhelpful styles were examined by the researchers.
In total, seven different approaches to leadership were evaluated by the researchers. The transactional style is one of the most prevalent, and it involves consistent praise and criticism for employees’ work. Laie-faire is another common management style in which employees are largely left to their own devices. The analysis revealed that two of the seven styles, transformational and destructive, had the greatest impact on employee well-being.
Workers’ mental well-being improved the most under managers who practised a transformational leadership style. Originally coined in the 1970s, transformational leaders motivate their teams by providing a compelling vision, inspiring their members to think outside the box, and customising their approach to each member of the staff. In terms of employees’ perceptions of their own happiness, this method was by far the most effective. It outperformed other leadership models, such as the leader-member exchange approach—in which the manager and employee have a close relationship—as well as relationship- and task-oriented models, which place more emphasis on support and productivity, respectively.
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In contrast, destructive leadership styles, wherein managers display aggressive and hostile behaviour, were found to have the most detrimental effect on workers’ emotional well-being. No one who has ever worked for a jerk of a boss will be surprised by that, but there was a twist in the analysis. Numerous scientific studies on the human psyche have confirmed the old adage that “bad is stronger than good.” Most people believe that having a truly terrible boss is much more detrimental than having an inspirational leader. So, the study’s authors reasoned, the costs of having a poor leader would far outweigh the benefits of having a good one. In contrast, they discovered that transformational leadership was as effective in explaining favourable mental health outcomes as destructive leadership was in explaining their opposites.
It has significant ramifications. This finding suggests that reducing the prevalence of destructive leadership is not more important than making good leaders better (by assisting them in becoming more transformational). Businesses should make it a priority to root out and punish bad managers. Companies should make it a top priority to recruit more transformational leaders, according to the research. Spending money on programmes like stress-reduction and mindfulness resources might be counterproductive, but that approach might be just as effective. In light of the fact that many workers resort to such measures in order to deal with ineffective or even harmful management, it may be more effective to focus efforts on developing effective leaders rather than providing employees with coping mechanisms.
The mental well-being of workers can be improved by educating managers on the specific actions and attitudes they should take or avoid. When managers do a better job of communicating their expectations for leadership and the kinds of behaviour that will not be tolerated, the workplace culture improves. And that shift can set off a positive spiral, as a thriving culture naturally draws in higher-quality workers and managers.