Leadership Style and Its Influence on Human Resource Management” – A Case Study in the Health Sector

Topic: “Leadership Style and Its Influence on Human Resource Management” – A Case Study in the Health Sector



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1.1:           INTRODUCTION



Human Resource Management practices and leadership approaches are fundamental to drive enhanced performance in the organization. According to Bondarouk and Brewster (2016), Human Resource Management is described as the strategic and logical practice of the organizational management and is considered as its main asset. The functionalities of HRM are fundamental in the management of human capital. Research indicates that Human Resource Management is critical to an organization’s growth, development and success. Any firm aspires to employ a good and effective HR in order to induce a smooth learning process must have successful goals and maximization of profits. Working in a reputable organisation that is geared towards training and development, I feel honoured and compelled to highlight the importance of Leadership style and its influence on Human Resource Management.

In addition to attaining advanced growth and high performance, Human Resource Management plays a significant role in enhancing an organization’s competitiveness, innovativeness, and creativity, among other features (Boxall et al., 2007). The approach asserts the significance of HRM in a firm’s effectiveness and competitiveness. It’s through a firm’s ability to compete that they are able to remain relevant in the market as well as to maintain their market value. Creativity, employee morale and confidence are core competencies needed for firms to thrive whilst the lack of the key competencies will likely propel a firm towards failure. Thus, the analysis of HRM in an organization and as a research paper is a warranted topic that impacts enhanced performance and service delivery in an organization.

Leadership is a fundamental aspect that influences personnel in an organization. The functionalities of effective leadership drive strategic objectives in an organization impacting cohesive and coherent growth and performance. The application of leadership in an organization provides direction and vision for the employees (HR) that focuses on attaining the organization’s outlined objectives. The utilization of effective leadership in HRM serves as a fundamental purpose of building an individual’s abilities which will in turn enhance performance of an individual that impacts directly on the efficacy and effectiveness of a group of personnel in an organization (Peregrino & Barbosa, 2016). The success of the group facilitated by effective leadership is designed to function towards the accomplishment of the set objectives of the group that culminates in the overall goals of an organization; thus, this will induce growth, development, and enhanced performance.

The functionalities and contributions of an effective leader in an organization are expected to provide a clear vision and strong impetus towards the future of an organization. The impact of leadership traits impact on the realization of set goals in an organization are manifested in the visionary capacity, effective communication, active engagement of the employees, directions, motivation, inspiration, and focus among the employees. Effective leadership approaches and HR practices induce high performance and committed organizational culture resulting in competitiveness, good reputation, and reliability in service delivery (Iqbal et al., 2015).

A leader with the capacity to nurture effectiveness and focused workforce will induce profound growth in an organization and as such high performance of the team is expected. Consequently, tremendous competitiveness and growth are bound to be a witness with advance services, customer satisfaction, and products quality (Iqbal et al., 2015).

Dalluay and Jalagat (2016) asserts that” leadership styles in HRM is described as critical in establishing the culture of an organization as well as the leader’s qualities, skills, values, competencies, among others prevalent in different leadership styles.” There are various leadership styles that assert different characteristics and approaches to an organization’s performance for example: (a.) Transformational leadership style– This is where leaders inspire the employees through the use of effective communication and serene environment that facilitates the growth of intellectual stimulation (Rodrigues & Ferreira, 2015). (b.) Transactional leadership style– Leaders focus on group and teamwork function. Also, rewarding of good performance and practices, as well as, punishment for bad practices is implemented. (c.) The charismatic leadership approach- This asserts profound influence and inspiring to the employees. (d.) Democratic leadership styles– Leaders share and actively engage the employees in decision-making, policy formulation, and implementation.

This paper is aimed at focussing on the leadership styles and its influence on human resource management practices. It will look at the influence leadership styles plays in the overall aspect on human resource management.  The HRM practices driven by effective leadership styles are critical in developing visionary leadership and employee commitment to the organizational goals (Holten & Brenner, 2015). The concept of Human Resource Management practices will be reviewed and a comparative analysis be done to the associated leadership styles. It is therefore hoped that this study will assist and help to highlight the different leadership styles and their effectiveness and those that will have a positive implication on Human Resource Management practices.








This research project aims at evaluating and analyzing the influence of leadership styles on Human Resource Management. In doing so, key questions underpinning the study are designed to expand the research scope such as:

  • What are the key functionalities of Human Resource Management ?
  • How do leadership styles impact on organizational performance in the healthcare facility?
  • What is the relationship between leadership styles and Human Resource Management practices?
  • How does leadership approaches impact on employee performance in the healthcare facility?
  • What recommendations do the findings prove essential to improve, enhance, and boost leadership and HRM practices in the organization?


The outcomes or specific objectives of this research are:

  • To critically examine the key functionalities of Human Resource Management
  • To evaluate the impact of leadership styles on organizational performance in the healthcare facility.
  • To explore the relationship between leadership styles and Human Resource Management practices.
  • To determine what leadership approaches best impact on employee performance in the healthcare facility.
  • To develop a set of recommendations essential to improve, boost, and enhance leadership and HRM context in the organization.


The research questions and objectives are designed to streamline the flow of the research processes and study execution of the core concepts that relate to the topic. The main concept explained by the selected literature reviews comprises of the impacts and/or influence of leadership styles on the HRM that facilitate and shape the functioning of North East Regional Health Authority. Dalluay and Jalagat (2016) states that HRM requires effective leadership approach to spearhead, give direction, vision, and merge the HR objectives with the overall objectives and strategies of the organization. The research is critical to ascertain the impacts of leadership approaches and HRM practices on organizational and employee performance in the healthcare facility.  It is hoped that in a bid for the achievement of these objectives upon completion of this research, findings will afford others as well as myself the opportunity to be more effective leaders while at the same time enhancing the skills and competences of the persons in which we supervise in a bid to keep them more engaged and informed.




This project was constrained by the timeframe the author was working with as well as the balance between academic study and personal and professional life which sometimes poses a conflict of obligations.





Chapter Two: The focus on the study of the organisation.  Information provided on the company’s mandates, structure and governance.


Chapter Three: Critical literature review in relations to leadership style and human resource management practices.


Chapter Four: Research methods used as well as the ethical considerations associated with the project.


Chapter Five:  Findings from interviews are presented.

Chapter Six: Results are evaluated in relation to the literature reviewed.


Chapter Seven: This represents conclusion and recommendations for the organisation and any future studies.


The references of works and related appendices containing pertinent data are cited and provided.


















2.1.1:  Company Overview


The North East Regional Health Authority (NERHA) was born out of the National Health Service Act in 1997 and the Government of Jamaica’s Health Reform Programme which saw the decentralizing of health service delivery. The management of the Health Service is designed to facilitate with the provision of cost-effective, accessible, integrated health care of an acceptable standard to the Jamaican public. (nerha.gov.jm, accessed 12/01/2019)

NERHA is under the control and direction of a board of directors comprising fifteen (15) persons which is appointed by the Minister of Health. The organization provides access to free health care and service delivery to the people of St. Ann, St. Mary and Portland. It has a health care delivery network which comprises of four (4) general hospitals, two (2) community hospitals and seventy three (73) health centres.

At North-East Regional Health Authority, their focus is about ensuring that persons receive optimum as well as the best medical care. They have also put training programs in place for each member of staff to go through rigorous customer training exercises and drills because the needs of the patients are ever-changing. The focus is also on health education and communicating with the community to ensure that they know what the regional health authority is doing.


NERHA comprises the parishes of St. Ann, St. Mary and Portland, a geographic area of 1018 sq. miles (2637 km2), and a population of 356, 000. (nerha.gov.jm, accessed 12/01/2019)

Each parish is under the responsibility of a Parish Manager who administers the resources involved in the delivery of health care services in the parish. In addition there are Hospital Management Committees, and Parish Health Committees, comprising representatives of the crucial professions in the region, and community leaders. (Nerha.gov.jm. accessed 12/01/2019).

The region employs over fourteen thousand (1400) healthcare professionals and administrative workers. Training is provided to staff both in the workplace as well as through other institutions such as Heart Trust NTA, University of the West Indies etc.


2.1.2:  Vision

“Healthy lifestyles, healthy environment…healthy people”. (nerha.gov.jm)


2.1.3:  Mission
The Mission of the North-East Regional Health Authority is, in partnership with other stakeholders, to promote the physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being and enhanced quality of life for the residents of St. Ann, St. Mary and Portland. This by empowering individuals and communities and ensuring access to adequate health care through the provision of cost effective, promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative services. (nerha.gov.jm)


2.1.4:  Structure of the North East Regional Health Authority

The Chief Executive of NERHA is the Regional Director (RD) who reports directly to the Chairman of the Board and is responsible for the management of the day-to-day activities of the authority


2.1.5:  Governance


The Board of Directors of the NERHA are appointed by the Minister of Health and are responsible for guiding the policies that govern the organisation.  The body comprises a Board Chairman and fourteen members who are instrumental to the mandates and strategic direction of the organisation.





2.1.6:  Management

The executive body is responsible for managing the internal processes of the NERHA on a day to day basis through four major health facilities which supports a number of departments and health centres across the parishes of St. Ann, St. Mary and Portland.  This team is led by a Regional Director and five executive directors who have other ultimate responsibilities for the management of the various heads of departments and facilities of the organisation.  Whilst the organisation is guided by standard operating policies and procedures management’s leadership style may differ at each health facility.






























This section of the project will examine the area of leadership style, the dominant types, as well as the overarching concept of the leadership styles and its influence on human resource management principles that may impact employees resulting in their overall performance. The area of organisational leadership along with the various styles and human resource management principles has been an area studied. Over the years, understanding leadership styles and their influence on human resource management principles is of paramount importance to the success of an organisation.  The role of the manager in an organization has evolved overtime far deeper than just mere supervision. While managers share a common performance, they are entrusted with additional managerial responsibilities as it relates to accountability and ensuring that strategies are translated into the daily operations of the business.  In order to do so, he or she has the ultimate responsibility to adopt more stringent best practices due to expansion of their roles to ensure staff members are motivated to perform at their best and in turn there is growth in overall business activities (Hales, 2005).





3.1:     The Concept of Leadership:

Leadership can be defined as a process in which leaders and followers interact in a way that enables the leader to influence the actions of followers in a non-coercive way, towards the achievement of certain aims of objectives (Rollinson and Broadfield, 2003).


The various styles and area of organisational leadership and the influence of human resource management practices has been an area studies over the years. Understanding leadership styles and their influence on human resource management principles is of paramount importance to the success of an organisation.  Leaders have great responsibility thrust upon them and they are often seen as the panacea for social and organizational problems (Bolman and Deal 2003: 336).


It has been argued that effective leadership is a function of the interaction between the leader, the situation and the team, and that the overlapping needs of the task (achievement), the team (building) and the individual (developing) have to be focused upon at all times (Sadler-Smith, 2011).


The emphasis in organizations for line-managers is changing from administration, to management, to leadership (Stewart and McGoldrick 1996: 15). Consequently, strategic leadership is receiving increased attention, given the observations that strategic leaders and executive succession practices have significant effects on the overall performance of an organization (Aditya et al. 2000).












Rollinson, et al (2012), highlights that leadership adopts one of two approaches – a descriptive approach which speaks to a person’s distinctive style of behaviour and the functional approach, which speaks to the functions performed by the leader with respect to the followers.  Within this theory, it was proposed that the behaviour of leaders affected their followers as in the case of action-centred theory of leadership – where leadership is deemed to meet three sets of interrelated needs that aid in the leaders performance of their functions, John Adair (1984).  The vertical dyad linkage model of leadership speaks to the many dyadic relationships, such as in-group members and out-group members.  Staff engagement may be revealed to be different in both groups based on individuals’ performances.


The various theories and models of leadership can give different perspectives on the subject. Consequently, a typology of leadership theories has evolved over the years to include trait theory, style theory, contingency theory and transformational leadership theory, Rollinson (2012). The behavioural styles of leaders were looked at by (Lewin et al 1939), resulting in this study placing leaders in three categories:  autocratic, democratic and laissez-faire leaders.  Other studies conducted around leadership were the Ohio State Leadership Studies and the Michigan Studies which focused on the behaviour of people in actual work settings and examined the areas of task completion and follower satisfaction.  These researches helped to highlight the effects of leadership styles on subordinates’ perceptions, etc. Rollinson (2012).


Isaksen et al. (2006) propose that leadership is a sophisticated concept and the contribution that leaders make to the performance of an organisation can be significant.  The review states that the upper echelons theory argues that decisions and choices of top management influences the performance of employees; and the organisation, as a whole; be it positively or negatively.  It is believed that leadership directly influences approximately fifteen percent (15%) of the differences found in performances of businesses; and contributes around an additional thirty-five percent (35%) based on the business strategy implemented.


The study of leadership can be further categorized under different approaches.  One such approach was the two-dimensional approach which was aimed at discovering the pattern of leadership behaviour that led to group performance (Isaksen & Tidd, 2006).  This study generalized the bulk of leadership behaviour into the areas of consideration and initiation. The consideration structure zoomed in on behaviours such as friendliness, openness to communication with sub-ordinates, recognition of contributions, leaders’ supportiveness and areas that dealt with establishing and maintaining good relationships with subordinates and overall the factors that contributed greatly to people and human relations.  The initiation structure spoke to behaviours that were concerned with directing subordinates, clarifying roles, planning and their task-oriented behaviours (Isaksen, et al. 2006). This supported the concept of efficient use of resources and attainment of task goals.


A look at the Managerial Grid promoted by Blake & Mouton (1985) – (Figure 3.1.1)

shows a two-dimensional approach in leadership; namely, a concern for people and a concern for results.  These two basic dimensions can be looked at as employee-centred versus production centred; concern for people versus concern for production; supportive versus directive behaviour and group maintenance versus task-related activities.   An effective leader will balance both port-folios while he/she determines the strategic direction of an organisation through balanced organisational controls (Isaksen et al. 2006).  When this is done, employees’ needs will not be overlooked, while the task at hand is executed as required.  Leadership therefore has to be able to strike the subtle balance in ensuring the two tenets are equally balanced.  An employee in most instances, is willing to exert the required efforts to meet objectives if they believe there is genuine concern for their needs from management.  In this regard, it is therefore evident that leadership has some direct bearing on employee engagement, and ultimately; on organisation’s performance.


Figure 3.1.1:  The Leadership Grid III:  The Key to Leadership Excellence, Source:  Blake R.R. & Moulton, J.S. (1985)


















Leadership theory and research has revealed some salient issues to include that a leader’s influence is non-coercive as well as goal-directed (Rollinson, et al. 2002).  Leadership authority is conferred by others from below.  This means followers confer leadership upon an individual whom they perceive has the capacity to attain a specific goal.  It is expected of leaders to be able to satisfy group members’ socio-emotive as well as their task needs.  Additionally, leadership is a two-way reciprocal process in which leaders’ and followers’ needs are satisfied in the relationship (Rollinson and Broadfield, 2002).  In light of this, a manager’s style of leadership will have a significant bearing on the level of engagement of their sub-ordinate.


Situational Leadership:

The situational approach to leadership identifies that different context requires a different type of leadership style (Isaksen et at. 2006).  The model was developed by Hersey and Blanchard.  It highlights the role of the leader as one of fulfilling a different function in situations with different tasks. It emphasises the qualities of the leader that are appropriate in a given situation based on the maturity levels of the followers (See Figure 3.3.1).


Figure 3.3.1:  Situational Approach to Leadership, Adapted from: “Leadership and The One Minute Manager,” Kenneth Blanchard

According to Isaksen & Tidd, the creativity of sub-ordinates are influenced by the quality and nature of the leader-member exchange (LMX).   The leader-member exchange can serve two roles; that of enhancing a sub-ordinates’ sense of competence and self-determination or undermine it.


Fiedler’s Contingency Model:


This model is based on how the leader’s personality matches the situation presented to him/her which will result in how a group performs when faced with such situation.  While some individuals are motivated by interpersonal relations; others on the flip are motivated by their accomplishment of a task (Sadler-Smith, 2012).  There are three dimensions that influence the degree to which the leader exercises control and influence in such a situation.  These are the leader-member relations, the task structure and the position power (See Figure 3.3.2).


Figure 3.3.2:  Fiedler’s Contingency Model.
Source – https://toughnickel.com/business/Leadership-Theories-Three-Types-of-Contingency-and-Situational-Theories




The leader’s behaviour has to be understood in this situation.  In understanding the leader’s behaviour; tests such as the LPC (Least Preferred Co-worker) is sometimes utilized to evaluate the leader’s style. Scores from such a test helps in determining if the leader is task-oriented or relationship-oriented.  Despite the difference in leadership styles, the effectiveness is based on the prevailing situation.



Path-Goal Theory:

This theory as proposed by Evans and House; sees the leader’s role as defining a path for followers to be able to support in executing a specified goal. The leader in this instant plays a motivational role in helping followers to achieve set goals  – (Mathews, 2016) – See Figure 3.3.3.  The role in this regard is to define a clear path by reducing barriers and increasing opportunities to the satisfaction of the followers.



Figure 3.3.3:  The Path-Goal Theory.  Source:  www.bealeader.net


The theory is based around the assumption that a follower’s motivations are affected by three (3) factors, namely; expectancy (if the effort is given, the goal can be achieved); instrumentality (if the goal is achieved, there will be a reward) and valance (the reward being considered valuable), Jason Matthews, 2016. It is expected that the leader will provide assurance regarding expectations to their followers.  Factors affecting the outcome of situations, or achievement of set goals, are the characteristics of followers, the type of situation and the prevailing leadership style.









Ohio State & Michigan Studies:

Understanding of leadership styles and roles are also supported by the Ohio State and Michigan Studies.


The Ohio State leadership style sees leadership on a two-dimensional structure, namely; initiating and consideration (Steyn, 2012).  These two structural and behavioural components support findings as it relates to behaviours exhibited by leaders in relations to creating mutual respect and trust, with a predominant focus on group members needs and desires (cranefield.ac.za),  The second component deals with leaders’ behaviour that evolve around organizing in order to be productive within a structural group arrangement.  Consequently, these two dimensions lead to four behavioural styles of leadership (See Figure 3.3.4).


While there may be no one best style of leadership based on these studies, the effectiveness will depend on the situational factors.


Figure 3.3.4:  Four Leadership Styles Derived from the Ohio States Studies
















The Michigan Leadership Studies

The Michigan Leadership studies identified styles of leader’s behaviour that results in higher performance and satisfaction of a group (ieducate.com).  The two distinct styles identified by this study are the job-centred leadership and the employee-centred leadership (See Figure 3.3.5).


It is believed that leaders who placed a keener interest in their sub-ordinates’ work and are interested in their performance are classified in the ‘job-centred category, while the leaders who are interested in a cohesive work group and job satisfaction of their employees are seen as employee-centred.


Figure 3.3.5: The Michigan Studies Leadership Behaviour Continuum






“Effective leadership is the only competitive advantage that will endure.  That’s because leadership has two sides – what a person is (character) and what a person does (competence)”.

Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.


A leader can be autocratic, democratic or simply a laissez-fair type.  According to Kippenberger, 2002, leadership style can be deemed as the style a leader adopts in dealing with those who follow them.  The three variables that impact leadership style are the leader’s character type, the follower’s character type and the situation.  While there may not be a right or wrong style; the situation will dictate which is more effective.


There are many theories around leadership and the evolution over the years has been interesting but Lewin’s three leadership styles will be looked at the case being studied; the autocratic, the laissez-faire and democratic style.


The autocratic leader is seen as one who makes decision independently of their team.  This leadership style is most suited in situations that require quick decision making (culcdalyopk2.wordexpress.com).  The democratic leader is keen on team involvement in the decision making process.  This type of leader helps in promoting the organisation’s vision.  Team members are more inclined to co-operate and commit to this leadership style.  A characteristic that is prominent for the laissez-faire leader is their keenness on delegating.  This type of leader may be seen as not taking charge of their team.  Team members are normally given freedom to make decisions, sometimes without guidance.  The leadership style can be seen as non-authoritarian.  The Manager with this style tends to see it as giving responsibility to sub-ordinates to help in motivating them.  While team members may sometimes enjoy this independence as it can lead to job fulfilment, on the flip, it can be destructive if there are issues with time management, skills and self-motivation.


It would be recommended that to be a good leader, having a combination of all three styles would be more effective or based on the prevailing situation, the mi be incorporated.  A leader with the power to influence their sub-ordinates can boost the overall level of engagement, commitment and performance and help in creating ‘value” for the organisation.


Figure 3.4.1:  Lewin’s Three Major Leadership Styles










3.5     Transactional/Transformational leadership typology

According to Bass’ topology, leadership style can be positioned based a leader’s proactiveness, ranging from avoidance to laissez-faire, transactional or transformational.


In transactional leadership, there is a mutual influence between leaders and followers which works on the basis of a reciprocal exchange relationship in which there is an element of costs and benefits. This framework is based on decision-making done through bureaucratic authority, formal rules, regulations, procedures and the exercise of legitimate power.  On the other hand, transformational leadership is mainly based on followers’ motivation.  Within this type of leadership, both the leader and the follower tend to bring each other to a higher moral level.  This type of leadership is focused on defining values, vision, mission and strategic direction of an organisation.  It is high on empowering, commitment and aids in energizing sub-ordinates to produce.  Significant components of transformational leadership were seen as charisma, intellectual stimulation, inspired motivation and individual consideration. Transformational leaders stir self-interest in followers and engender performance beyond expectations.  The major factors of this style of leadership looks at charisma – an insight into the needs, values and hopes of followers through emotional qualities


In another review by Bass and Avolio (1994) draws upon a distinction between transactional leadership (most suited to stable situations in which the leader diagnoses the followers’ needs and adopts an appropriate style) and transformational leadership (most suited to changing environments and where the leader communicates to followers what needs to be done to cope with the change and rise to the challenge).


The four key characteristics of the transformational leader originally suggested by Bass and Avolio are: charisma (comprising expertise, articulateness, trustworthiness and sensitivity), vision (sensitivity and foresight), and intellectual stimulation of followers and, finally, individualized consideration of followers and the taking of their needs into account and providing them with recognition and opportunities for achievement (Dvir et al. 2002).


Transformational qualities can be a powerful force for positive change but depends heavily on the external environment, internal organisational environment and the personality and values of the leader.  It is argued that charismatic leadership yields better results under conditions of environmental uncertainty, this style influences performance. Contrasted with the traits of the transactional leadership, it is proposed that this leadership style is more concerned with processes and their efficiency.  Bass argues that transactional leadership is useful however, when rules need to be enforced for set goals to be achieved.  The leadership style therefore, be it transformational or transactional can have either a positive or negative influence on employee engagement.  Adopting a particular type of leadership style can be beneficial (based on the objectives to be achieved).  Overall leadership style can enhance the team’s performance and improve an organisation’s competitive advantage.




















3.6     Leadership Style and Organisational Success



….People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.
John C. Maxwell


According to DuBrin (2004), leadership is the accomplishment of goals through communication towards others.  Li-Ren et al. (2001) investigated the relationships among project managers’ leadership style, team work and success.  The analysis from their survey indicated that leadership style may enhance the relationship among team members which ultimately has significant impact on overall success.  It was highlighted that in a bid to achieve set goals, managers developed particular leadership styles.  This hinged therefore, that one leadership style may work better in instances where more co-operation is required.


Leadership style has become increasingly critical to organisational success.  Goleman (2004) claimed that emotional intelligence may be the key attribute that distinguishes outstanding performers from those who are merely adequate.  Emotional intelligence looks at areas such as self-awareness, empathy, motivation, social skills, etc.  Davis (1972) identified four (4) kinds of personalities related to succeeding in leadership:  social maturity and breath, inner motivation and achievement, drive, intelligence and human relations and attitudes.  This therefore ties in with emotional intelligence and the sheer understanding of your employees in such a way so you can relate and direct your team to organisational success. A leader’s understanding of these psycho-social components will be a bridge in better understanding their staff resulting in more co-operation and deeper engagement.


Top management plays an important and critical role in strategy implementation hence; their leadership style has to be in congruence with the team they lead.

Volberda et al. (2011) states that a leader has to be able to exemplify traits in a way to anticipate and maintain flexibility while empowering others.  Effective leadership influences the behaviours, thoughts and feelings of those with whom they work (Kotler, 2007).

Wang, Chou and Jiang (2005) also concluded that charismatic leadership has a positive influence on team cohesiveness, as well as a team’s performance. Kotler (2007) stated that providing leadership means influencing others to take responsibility for identifying, developing, retaining and motivating talented professionals on a team.  It was highlighted that there is a cost-benefit exchange process which will lead to good outcomes from employees’ performance and will ultimately influence their overall engagement.


Zaccaro et al. 2001 propose that leadership does influence performance.  In fact, the article focused on leader-team dynamics but asserts that an approach through ‘functional-leadership’ and group needs result in effective teams. Through a number of guiding propositions, the reciprocal influence of leadership and team processes are highlighted.  The article rested on some central assumptions but interestingly noted was that the leadership functions apply across different kinds of teams and the leader’s relationship to that team.  Among the distinctions for leadership highlighted is that it involves discretion and choice in appropriate solutions to problems.  The choices made would therefore have to be in congruence to the response of the team.  Zaccaro et al. 2001 further describe seven (7) contextual imperatives that hinge on the nature of organisational leadership; namely, cognitive, social, personal, political, technological, financial and staffing.  These imperatives would therefore call for specific leadership styles for them to be instrumental or contribute to staff engagement based on the context or circumstances.  Zaccaro attempts to expound on the concept of leadership styles and employee engagement by stating that the performance strategies used by team members tend to emerge from leader planning and co-ordinating activities.  Likewise, their motivation and choices regarding the level of effort expended tends to be influenced by the leader’s encouragement.




El, Badawny et al., (2014), speaks to human capital, its strategic value and the associated costs to an organisation when valuable talent is lost.  The paper also examined the impact of transformational leadership style on employee engagement and how this affects staff turn-over in a positive or negative way.  It further speaks to strategies that augment leadership and engagement practices to reduce loss of valuable human resource talents.  These costs stem from a loss of knowledge, experience, investments in recruitment and training, etc.  An analysis of the leadership style in a bid to ascertain its effect on an employee’s intention to quit was recommended.


Carasco-Saul et al. (2015) proposed in a review of the historic leadership theories, that in comparison to trait theory, behavioural theory, contingency, leader-member-exchange and charismatic theory of leadership – transformational leadership was deemed the most persuasive.  They stated:

“… whatever way leadership is specifically defined, the overarching assumption is that employees are strongly influenced           by their leaders in their perceptions and behaviour … “(p. 47).


It is therefore important that the quality of the relationship between a leader and their followers produce desired results.  Mass (2008) also argued that followers are more attached to transformational leaders who demonstrate emotional support and provide recognition for follower contributions.  Walumbwa et al. (2010) spoke to authentic leadership – he stated that it is significantly associated with organisational citizenship behaviour while it boosts follower’s level of empowerment and identification with supervisors.  Serrano & Reichards (2011) identified four (4) pathways to aide in engagement, namely – “designing meaningful and motivating work; supporting & coaching employees; enhancing employees’ personal resources and facilitating rewarding and supportive co-worker relations”.


It is therefore of interest to note that leadership is a key antecedent (Carasco-Saul et al. 2015) to factors such as employee engagement and can have either a positive or negative influence on an organisation’s strategic priorities, based on the level of employee engagement.


An overarching portion of the reviews on leadership and engagement relationships surrounded the transformational leadership style.  This would seem to imply that the majority of leaders behave accordingly.  The reviews argued in agreement however, that leadership style co-related to employee-engagement.


3.7       The Concept of Employee Engagement


“Wherever you work, your job as a manager is to make your people be the best they can be – and usually they don’t know just how good they could be. It’s individuals that make the difference … Sir Alan Jones”

 ….  MacLeod & Clarke, Engaging For Success, p.4


When employees harness themselves into their job functions; be it physically or emotionally, this is deemed as engagement (Kahn 1990).  MacLeod and Clarke described engagement as commitment to organisational goals and values because there is underlying motivation for both self and organisational success.

They believe that the performance and profitability of a company can be transformed by the levels of employee engagement.  The correlation between the two cannot be ignored.  When engagement improves, performance also improves.


It is further argued that if the concept and principles surrounding employee engagement were more widely understood and if they were practiced and benchmarked; more favourable performance would be seen in the workplace.  Engagement is a key factor in unlocking productivity and transforming the working lives of subordinates.  As MacLeod and Clarke further argue that employees performance should be a prime consideration for every manager, and as such they should be enabled to have both an intellectual and emotional relationship with their work


When an employee exerts energy into their job, through cognitive, emotional and physical energy it benefits both parties involved, Morgan 2017.  Morgan believes that the two key factors to employee engagement are job engagement and organisational engagement.  Both factors are seen as complimentary parts of employee engagement.  When the two concepts are properly understood, levels of engagement can be improved in the workplace.


Morgan describes organisational commitment as the manner in which an employee relates to the organisation they work for in contrast to how they relate to their specific job role.  The frameworks surrounding this concept are organisational commitment (OC) and organisational identity (OI).  Organisational commitment (OC) can be deemed a the emotional attachment an employee feels towards the organisation they work for, resulting in a sense of reciprocal exchange of contributing more if they feel the company cares about them.  This means an increased level of commitment if the employee believes in the values and goals of the company.  In this context, the role of the leader is absolutely paramount. Organisational identity on the other hand, refers to the connection between an employee’s self-image and the organisation.  When this occurs, the employee will include themselves in the ‘big picture’ whenever reference is made to the organisation they work for.  An employee who has a positive work life experience has a greater organisational identity. When there is shared commitment and identity, organisational engagement is at a higher level and overall employee engagement will be greater (See Figure 3.7.1)


Several factors are associated with a positive employee engagement.  Morgan further states that relating to the specific day-to-day job roles can also be deemed as employee engagement.  Job roles play an equally important aspect in overall levels of employee engagement.  The factors associated with producing a more positive employee engagement are the role of the line manager whose role spans from communication, personal development and providing constructive feedback.  He or she is seen as a ‘personal voice of the organisation’. Other responsibilities include recognition for success, or positive reinforcement for desired behaviours, as well as allowing the employee to have a ‘voice’.   Such factors can significantly impact on improving overall levels of job engagement.



Figure 3.7.1:   The Two Parts of Employee Engagement, Source Matthew Morgan, 2017


Overtime, employee engagement has become a concern for organisations.  Employees who feel engaged are more involved and enjoy their jobs Schaufeli, Taris and Rherien, (2008). It is implied that the style of leadership has strong bearing on influence or an employee’s intention to remain with an organisation.  Indeed, the fact remains that in most cases of a decision to sever ties with a company, the employee decides to “leave their manager, not the company” Buckingham and Coffman, (2005).  This further strengthens the case that an engaged employee is less likely to quit, hence, the leader’s style of management should be occasionally reviewed, as leadership can boost employee engagement (Chughtai and Buckley, 2008).


Popli and Rizvi (2015) believe that leadership style drives employee engagement. While the research was aimed at one sector, it does not undermine the fact that leadership style is of optimal importance in engaging employees towards organisational success.  The attitudes and behaviour of employees has direct bearing on their job performance and are further influenced by the leadership style prevalent in the organisation.  Rizvi (2000) concluded that the management style of leaders has a significant impact on individual or organisational commitment as well as job satisfaction and group cohesiveness which are all mitigating factors for employee engagement.  The style of the leader can be a significant factor in transformation and success and in creating a work culture conducive to motivation, commitment and performance (Singh and Bhandarker 1990).


Employee engagement is co-related to organisational commitment, Organ (1988) and organisational citizenship behaviour (OCB).   Robinson et al. (2004), state that engagement contains many of the elements of both commitment and organisational citizenship behaviour; but not a perfect match with either.


Kahn (1990) proposes that engagement differs from basic job involvement as it focuses on one’s commitment during the performance of their job.  Individuals therefore need to have the conditions of meaningfulness, safety and availability met to perform satisfactorily.  May et al. (2004), described engagement as the active use of emotions in addition to the simple use of cognition in completing tasks; while  Meere (2005) highlighted the varying degrees of employee engagement.  He states that an engaged employee works with passion and is connected to their organisation.  They will help in driving innovation in a bid to move the organisation forward.  An employee who is not engaged however, places no passion or energy into their work.  A disengaged employee is an unhappy one and will undermine the work of the engaged co-workers hence, it is within the interest of a leader to ascertain the state of their employees to avoid such state of minds where and when possible.  It can therefore be concluded that leadership style is a driving force in engagement of employees.  Highly engaged employees based on these findings will make valued contribution to their organisation, while a disengaged employee can hinder progress.  The leadership style has to be one that will motivate employees to do well base in the prevailing work situation.


Kahn (1990) further added to the concept of engagement.  He described it as being “the simultaneous employment and expression of a person’s ‘preferred self’ in task behaviors that promote connections to work and to others, personal presence (physical, cognitive, and emotional), and active full role performance”. He expounded on the meaning of engagement by stating that it looks at the extents to which individuals are “psychologically present during particular moments of role performance”.  It was concluded that when employees are highly engaged, there will be positive impacts on a company’s bottom-line Harter et al, (2002).

Maslach and Leiter (2003), describes engagement as the positive psychological opposite of burn-out; while Slaski and Cowan speak about the psycho-social model of engagement and its effect on the work-environment.  This review basically concludes that engaged employees will contribute positively to an organisations competitive advantage.  For this to be possible however, the leadership style engaged will have to be one that is accepted to yield such positive results.  It is imperative that leaders understand the relationship and the influence their style of management has on employee engagement.  This is necessary to foster positive results.  Overall, higher levels of organisational engagement and commitment, as well as job engagement can result in more positive levels of employee engagement.













By understanding the concept of engagement; a leader will better appreciate what his/her sub-ordinate wants and the rationale behind their behaviours.  It should be a leaders’ interest in creating a cohesive team and as such, should understand what the different barriers can be to employee engagement.


According to Williams, 2016; there are five barriers to employee engagement, namely:

  • Lack of clarity
  • Cynicism
  • Bureaucracy
  • Lack of work-life Balance
  • Poor Management Decisions


Lack of clarity:  This looks at the managers’ awareness of what employee engagement is.  They need to be aware that engagement is deeper than mere job satisfaction.  While engaged employees are satisfied when they have clear job roles and functions; they also need to feel motivated to do their best so they can possess that sense of loyalty and commitment to the organisation in which they are employed.


Cynicism:  Williams further claimed, if management is cynical on the matter of employee engagement, it can create a negative view in the eyes of sub-ordinates. This can result in the matter of engagement being seen as a context of ‘self-interest’ or ‘motives’.


Bureaucracy:  Workers who feel they have ‘no voice’, as they are constantly guided by rules and procedures regardless of the appropriateness to the situation will not likely feel engaged.  They will deem this as ‘control’, not results oriented.  This may result in them becoming alienated.


Lack of work-life balance:  Williams explained that a lack of work-life balance due to long hours on the job, or out of a mere sense of obligation; seriously reduces employee engagement.  Spending extra hours at work, tend to infringe on employees’ personal lives overtime triggering a feeling of disengagement.


Poor Management Decisions:  Finally, Williams argued that disengagement can be as a result of hap-hazard management decisions, as well as those decisions made without consideration for sub-ordinates.







































3.8     Role of the Line-Manager in Sub-ordinates Career Development


The role of the line-manager is deeper than mere supervision.  It has been expanded to encapsulate providing of leadership that can translate into the attainment of corporate goals.  The line-manager’s role remains critical as it spans different tenets that can lead to overall employee engagement.


According to Crawshaw, et al the Line Manager’s role have evolved over the years.  Some typical HR functions have been devolved to live managers to include that of career development which is a typical HR function but has implications for employee behaviours.  Much of an employee’s individual career planning is discussed between an employee and their respective line manager.   Employees have come to view career management as a relational process where their manager is seen as the critical person to have this function realized.

It is believed that facilitating employee career management will help in ultimately improving employee-line manager interpersonal relationship.  Additionally, if career planning, management and development are effective in an organisation, it will foster high levels of employee trust coupled with a pool of skilled and flexible workers.   Therefore, the importance of the interrelationship between line manager and employee in shaping career-related attitudes and behaviours is of paramount importance.  On the reverse; when this is low or does not exist, factors such a high staff turnover, as employee will actively seek alternative employment.  This definitely is a high cost to companies for recruitment and training.  Management of careers is therefore vital in helping to maintain the competitive position or advantage of an organisation; hence the line-manager’s involvement is crucial in this regard.









Crawford sited arguments towards attachment theory.  It was stated that attachment theory describes how individuals develop relational attachment orientations through repeated ‘caregiving’ interactions with others (A. Waters, et al, 1978).  Attachment orientation in turn, influences a wide range of attitudes and behaviours.  It explains how sensitivity and responsiveness shown by key relationship figures, including line-managers, help in the shaping of individuals’ willingness and ability to explore their social environment (Mukulinear, et al 2007).

In light of this, it is believed that effective, more self-reliant individual career management depends on the extent to which employees experience consistently responsive, trusting “secure-base” caregiving in the line management relationship (Kahn, 1996).


In a relational context, some behaviours linked to effective caregiving include being consistently aware of issues and concerns, understanding, accepting and working collaboratively to resolve problems (Ainsworth et. al. 1978).  It is believed that employees tend to internalize the quality of caregiving (Collins, et al 2010) in a given relationship.   The line managers style of leadership will therefore be an integral factor in how employees will view this trait as it is believed that when leaders provide a secure base through consistent and responsive giving, followers feel more securely attached (Popper and Mayseless 2003) on the flip, if a line managers style of leadership is seen as being consistently insensitive and unresponsive then this will eventually lead to attachment avoidance, characterized by lack of trust in them.  When the line-manager-employee relations are poor, then organizational trust will be affected.  This can lead to dissatisfied and disengaged employees who will now show a reduction in organizational development activities and instead be more focused on career management strategies that seek exit from the current organisation (Crawshaw 2014).


Afes et al. 2013 states that engaged employees invest themselves fully in their roles (Rothbard, 2001).  Such employees may achieve higher performance as they invest in work-related goals and are emotionally and socially connected to their work (Kahn, 1990).  It is again believed here that engaged employees feel more spirited and will therefore not have to work very hard to accomplish set tasks.


The line manager plays an integral role in creating and maintaining an environment in which employees are willing to engage and perform at high levels.

The functions of the HRM Department are intertwined with that of the line manager and as such, there needs to be collaboration in ensuring effective implementation of policies.  The overall aim of the two should be evoking a positive attitude in the employee towards desired behaviours that will improve performance which keeping them at high levels of engagement.  The studies of Alfes, et al suggests that there is a link between the two, as positive experiences for employees are as a result of the practices of the two.  The studies states that where there is a positive link, task performance and innovative work behavior is enhanced.  This was further compounded by the social exchange theory, which suggests that where employees feel that their organisation is investing in them through the positive experiences they have of HRM policy and line manager behaviour, they will in turn produce high quality efforts to meet organizational objectives.









3.10:   Summary


Overall, people are more engaged at work when their jobs are meaningful and the environment feels secure and they are provided with the required resources to accomplish their daily tasks Kahn (1990); but the right leadership style is required to foster engagement to the advantage of the organisation.  An overarching number of literature reviews spoke to transformational leadership in relations to employee engagement.  This would somewhat imply that a large number of leaders exhibited this type of leadership style.  As Moss, 2008 stated, when leaders demonstrate emotional support and provide recognition for followers’ contributions, they feel securely attached.  The reviews argued in agreement that manager’s leadership style does have direct impact on and influences the level of employee engagement.  On the flip, a low level of employee engagement does affect managers as sub-ordinates who perform below expectation affect a company’s bottom line.  Deeper study in the area can do justice in expanding the current body of available literature.




















































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