New theoretical article on leadership and engagement

Construct proliferation in the leadership field raises questions concerning parsimony and whether we should focus on joint mechanisms of leadership styles, rather than the differences between them. In this theoretical research article, we propose that positive leadership styles translate into similar leader behaviors on the work floor that influence employee work engagement through a number of shared pathways. We take a deductive approach and review several established theories as well as relevant up-to-date empirical work from a bird’s-eye view to generate a general framework. We introduce a model with three processes (one direct process and two indirect processes) and five pathways (practical, motivational, affective, cognitive, and behavioral). With regard to the indirect processes, we propose that work characteristics (material pathway) and psychological need satisfaction (intra-personal motivational pathway) mediate the relationship between positive leadership styles and engagement. Regarding the direct interpersonal process, we propose that leaders directly influence employee engagement through three pathways: emotional contagion (affective interpersonal pathway), social exchange (cognitive interpersonal pathway), and role modeling (behavioral interpersonal pathway). Our parsimonious research model furthers the integration of different theoretical viewpoints as well as underscores joint mechanisms with regard to the effect of positive leadership styles. Practically speaking, this article also provides insight into which processes leaders can work on to stimulate employee work engagement through progressive policies and work practices (download full article).