Engaging leader - Engaged employees? A cross-lagged study on employee engagement

Irina Nikolova, Wilmar Schaufeli, Guy Notelaers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The goal of this study is to provide a cross-lagged examination of the relationships between engaging leadership, job resources and employee work engagement. We propose a mediation model and we postulate that engaging leadership can increase perceptions of three specific job resources (i.e. autonomy, support from colleagues and opportunities for learning and development) which theoretically correspond to the three facets of engaging leadership (i.e., inspiring, connecting and strengthening, respectively). Subsequently, in keeping with the extant body of Job Demands-Resources (JD-R) research, we link job resources to employee work engagement. Our hypotheses were tested on data collected at two time-points – T1 (N = 759) and T2 (N = 273) –from employees working for a hotel chain in the Netherlands. In line with our expectations, engaging leadership showed a significant cross-lagged relationship with autonomy and support from colleagues, but did not predict learning opportunities and work engagement across time. While we formulated specific hypotheses, we also tested reversed causation relationships. We found no direct effect from engaging leadership on employee work engagement, however, the reversed effect was significant; employee perceptions of engaging leadership were shaped by their own engagement experiences. Importantly, engaged employees at T1 reported more job resources at T2. By providing a cross-lagged examination of our model, we showed that engaging leaders as well as employees’ positive affective state of being engaged, are essential to shaping a resourceful work context. A comprehensive view on the triggers and outcomes of work engagement and engaging leadership is needed, as the traditional unidirectional cause-effect rationale fails to explain how these concepts relate to one another and to employee experiences of job resources.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)772-783
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Management Journal
Volume37
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

Keywords

  • Autonomy
  • Employee work engagement
  • Engaging leadership
  • Job resources
  • Learning opportunities

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