Empowering Leadership and Psychological Capital

Organizations today want and need employees who are emotionally connected to their work and willing to do everything they can in order to support their organizations’ success. Leaders, believing that satisfied, capable, and committed employees are their most important resource, take steps to enhance employees’ well-being and job performance. Consequently, positive psychology and positive organizational behavior has become a critical topic in the field of leadership and management.

Effective leadership encourages positive attitudes and behaviors of employees. Since leaders play a substantial role in the process of social influence within the organization, it is important to consider how leadership impacts employees’ positive psychological states of mind and behaviors.

Psychological Capital (PsyCap) is broadly defined as an individual’s positive state of development regarding “who you are” and “what you can become.” Today, many organizations try to increase PsyCap beyond financial capital (“what you have”), human capital (“what you know”), and social capital (“who you know”). ”

In examining the relationship between empowering leadership and the employees’ positive attitudes and behaviors, this study postulates that PsyCap is a mediator in the relationship between empowering leadership and the two positive organizational behavior constructs of psychological well-being (PWB) and job engagement.

The researchers found that empowering leadership influenced job engagement both directly and indirectly through PsyCap. Employees’ PsyCap fully mediated the relationship between empowering leadership and employees’ PWB, while partially mediating the relationship between empowering leadership and job engagement. These findings imply that employees will form positive attitudes when leaders show concern about the subordinates’ feelings and when they delegate authority. It should be noted that empowering leadership did not directly impact PWB, but PsyCap fully mediated the relationship between empowering leadership and PWB. This finding suggests that leaders’ empowering behaviors may have a more direct role in influencing their employees’ level of PsyCap than PWB. One possible explanation can be that leaders can make a greater impact on employee PsyCap that relates to employees’ positive psychological resource capacities than on PWB, which is related to their overall life satisfaction above and beyond work.

To improve the employees’ job engagement and PWB, employees need to feel safe, confident, persevering, and flexible, and for that matter, leaders’ empowering behaviors play a significant role in boosting the followers’ psychological safety. Although many leaders and managers encourage their subordinates to be more autonomous and participatory, we believe that conveying confidence and collaborating with them to reduce work barriers are less frequently practiced in today’s workplace.

Indeed, PsyCap is an important resource to form higher levels of PWB and job engagement. As a positive psychological resources, employees’ PsyCap needs more attention on the part of the leaders and managers who interact closely with them.

More here:
Park, J. G., Kim, J. S., Yoon, S. W, & B, Joo. (2017). The effects of empowering leadership on psychological well-being and job engagement: The mediating role of psychological capital. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 38(3), 350-367. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/LODJ-08-2015-0182

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