Role of Leadership in Employee Engagement

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The section will focus on literature in the field of leadership, styles of leadership, employee retention and roles of leaders in the age of uncertainty. It will examine academic papers written on the impact of leadership styles on employee engagement, employee retention, and performance. People are valuable assets to organizations. New challenges have evolved in the workplace which is affecting the role leaders and employee play in organizations. Employee engagement has an influence on the attitude, behavior, and performance of an employee and the organization in general. According to (Shuck and Reio, 2014, p.48), poor employee engagement is detrimental because the productivity and well-being of employees are affected. The positive or negative emotional feelings employees have about their colleagues and jobs which influences the decision on learning and performing in the workplace. For leaders managing organizations in this age of uncertainty, finding a road map to use in employee engagement has been a challenge. Factors such as job stability, employee development, company loyalty, talent retention and work-life balance continue to influence the leaders and employee’s engagement. To ensure continuous business operations and increased profits (Hofmann and Hohmeyer, 2013, p.507) suggests that an organization needs to find an effective style of leadership. Leaders play an essential role in the lives of the employees and would influence their performance while working and thus desirable techniques should be used to engage and connect with the employees.

Role of leaders in Engaging Employees

New challenges are evolving in organizations and it is the role of the leader to handle them. Lack of engaging employees can lead to a high turnover, stress and job dissatisfaction. That will adversely affect an organization thus it will not be able to achieve its mission and vision. In this section, the focus will be on some of the roles leaders play to ensure they engage with their employees.

Goal Setting and Setting up Priorities

Effective leaders coach and train the employees to be more productive and be able to achieve their goals. According to an investigation by (Rothmann and Welsh, 2014, p.19), strong relationships in employee engagement lead to job enrichment and better psychological availability of employees. Leaders are architects who help the employees design goals and create roadmaps on how they are going to achieve them. Employees become loyal in workplaces where they feel challenged and growing and that would strongly influence their productivity and that of the organization. (Griffin and Hu, 2013, p.197) asserts that leaders help employees to set their goals thus better engage with them and they are able to learn their skills, values, and interests. The connection they create is essential as for the employees, they will grow and help the leader create effective solutions to the problem the organization will be facing. Millennials, for instance, want leaders who are able to challenge them to be better and more valuable to the organization. The engagement between the employees and the leader will help to induce creativity, innovation and eliminate any aspect of fear which is a barrier to their productivity. Through effective leadership, individuals will be able to establish their strengths, weaknesses and complete tasks that are assigned to them on time.

Making Employees Accountable for their Performance

Performance is what is used to gauge the abilities of the employees. According to (Carter et al., 2013, p.942), the effectiveness of a leader is measured by the performance of the team and the quality of relationship they have. Accountability helps the leaders to ensure the measurable goals are achieved and the business will not remain stagnant or achieve losses. One method to ensure performance accountability is achieved is by creating clear performance expectations for the employees. Another way is tracking and recording metrics of performance after a certain period of time. (Steinbauer et al., 2014, p.382) affirms that ethical leadership and good moral judgment make the leaders give better decisions that will motivate the employees to perform. When employees track their own performance, they will be open and communicate with the leader on ways they can use to improve. The feedback provided by the manager ensures they maintain a good relationship that will benefit both the employees and the business. The resources and support the leader provides ensures employees are comfortable and raise questions when they have a different opinion on how things should be done. That will show the leader is not only focused on the results but believe in the people and are always available to help the individuals to meet their goals and targets in life.

Involvement in Employee Work and Social Lives

Beyond work, employees have another side of their lives which when affected will affect their wellbeing and performance. According to (Strom, Sears and Kelly, 2014, p.71), engaged employees have profound connection and passion for the company they are working for thus they would be innovative and help the organization perform. As a leader, it is important to interact with the employees and get involved in their social as well as private lives. That will help in connecting and creating a bond that will inspire loyalty and good performance. Employees will feel better appreciated hence issues such as absenteeism will not be experienced as they will be having more respect for their leaders and workplace. (Bedarkar and Pandita, 2014, p.106) assert that the well-being of the employees is inspired by the engagement they receive in the workplace. Therefore, employees will get attached to their leaders and seek help when they feel they are connected and the leaders are concerned not only in their work life but also their social lives. A balance between their lives would help them forge better interactions with other employees and the workplace will be like a home and the employees will be a family. Organizations can use the strategy to ensure long-term growth, profitability and they are making an impact in the lives of the people.

Empowerment of Employees

Employee engagement can help the employees be better empowered which will be beneficial to them as well as to the organization. According to According to (Wong and Laschinger, 2013, p.952), effective leaders engage with their employees and that would help in career motivation and developing leaders who will lead the organization in future. The engagement will empower the employees to be more involved and have more influence over their work. Leaders should ensure they engage with their employees and create a conducive environment for working. The empowerment will help to reduce risks to the business, increase employee retention and improve performance. When leaders better engage their employees, they will give them control in decision making, setting goals, hiring, training and creating plans for the organization (Wang and Hsieh, 2013, p.615). Empowered employees will have better outcomes in their work and social lives. Through the engagement with their leaders, they will be better suited to make better priorities and collaborative goals that will benefit the organization and also contribute to developing the skills of the employees. Empowerment created through employee engagement will also help in creating a good corporate culture that will promote values such as integrity, hard work, patience, tolerance, and creativity.

What is Leadership?

Every organization needs leaders who will be responsible for driving the mission and vision of the company. The biggest role leader play is aligning the people with the vision of the organization. To align the vision, the leaders need to interact with the employees. The level of interaction has an influence on performance, employee retention, job satisfaction and motivation. In this age of uncertainty, leaders are essential in the running of organizations and most importantly, management of employees.

Leadership Styles

There are a number styles of leadership that exist in organizations but their effectiveness depends on several factors. The styles used will influence the type of engagement that will exist between the leaders and the employees. (Breevaart et al., 2014, p.148) asserts that leadership styles influence the kind of behavior and attitude employees will have towards their leaders and workers. There are a number of leadership styles and I will categorize them into two forms; traditional and new forms of leadership.

Traditional Forms of Leadership

Autocratic leadership

According to (Bamford, Wong and Laschinger, 2013, p.529), autocratic leaders make decisions without consulting their subordinates and do not share power. In workplaces where the style of leadership is implemented, employee engagement is limited. Performance is influenced by the interaction between the leaders and employees. There will be less interaction between the leaders and the employees thus employee retention will be influenced. The employees can end up feeling less appreciated thus there will be high turnover and absenteeism. Less employee engagement as well impacts the productivity of the employees. An organization can end up being affected by the leadership style.

Laissez-faire leadership

Zareen, Razzaq and Mujtaba (2015, p.537) assert that laissez-faire is not an effective leadership style as the leader has little control over the employee and that can influence their productivity. The employees are given no power to make decisions. The style of leadership works for employees who are experienced with their work. The style is not effective in employee engagement and retention. For it to work, the leaders have to monitor the performance and communicate the expectations to their employees. Laissez-faire leadership does not regard welfare and employee development. An organization may not benefit from this style of leadership as less employee engagement can lead to less productivity.

Democratic leadership

Zhang et al. (2014, p.6) affirms that democratic leadership is distributed and accommodate all the needs of the employees even though there is a formal leader. The employees are asked to give opinions and feedback on some of the decisions and processes in an organization. The level of interaction and communication between the leaders and the employees is high. When employed, it helps an organization to cultivate values such as creativity, competence and courage and the employees end up being more empowered. Transactional leadership is effective as it helps to promote better engagement with employees, commitment and employee retention in an organization.

New Leadership Styles

Transformational Leadership

A transformational leader motivates the employees, is mature, experienced and understands how work engagement enriches the organization. (Yasin Ghadi et al., 2013, p.532) stresses that transforming leaders engages the employees, satisfy their needs and motivate them to improve their performance. They help the employees to set high targets and through that, they will be able to grow their skills and be empowered. The leaders who employ this form of style tend to have more followers who trust them and seek their opinion on challenges they encounter. There is a high level of interaction between the leader and the employee. The style is an effective form of leadership as it leads to better performance, commitment, employee retention.

Transactional Leadership

In transactional leadership, a leader approaches the employee with the aim of exchanging one element for another. According to (Clarke, 2013, p.22), transactional leadership limits a leader to use the reward system to engage with the employees and enhance performance. The style can work for a short-term task and will not lead to the empowerment of the employee. There is less interaction between the leader and the employees and decisions are made without consideration of the views of the employees. Employees are also punished when they do not meet their target and that can demoralize them and affect the input they give to the organization. The style is not an effective form of leadership that can promote employee engagement, loyalty, commitment and retention thus an organization will end up losing the best talents.

All these styles of leadership have an influence on employee engagement and the level of interaction between the leaders and the employees. They also influence the behavior and attitude of the employees towards their leaders and workplaces. Organizations employee different forms of leadership depending on their organizational culture and how effective it works. When choosing a leadership style in this age of uncertainty, the view of employees should be taken into consideration and ensure it will lead to better employee engagement and retention.

Relationship of Leadership Styles to Performance Outcomes

Based on studies done by various authors, there is a relationship between leadership style and performance outcome of the employee. One of the studies was done by (Iqbal et al., 2015, p.1), the author investigated the influence of different styles of leadership on the performance of the employees. To better elaborate this, I will look at different aspects of styles of leadership and how they influence performance.

Impact of Leadership Styles on Attitude and Behavior of Employees

The behavior and attitude of the employees have an influence on their performance. In the study of the impact of styles of leadership on performance, (Asrar-ul-Haq et al., 2016, p.54) established that transformational leadership had a positive effect on employee performance. The author also detailed that Laissez-faire style of leadership had a negative influence on the productivity of the employees. Different leadership styles have an impression on the level of interaction between leaders and the employees. When employees are less engaged by their leaders, they tend to have a negative attitude towards the leader and the workplace. They will become less interested in their work. The organization will not benefit from negative attitude and behavior by the employees which will lead to less performance and thus decreased output and outcome. Better forms of leadership will promote engagement between the leaders and the employees, good behaviors and attitudes will be initiated. That will lead to better performance and both the employee and the organization will benefit.

Leadership Style Impact on Innovation and Creativity

Different styles of leadership raise different requirements in the job settings. According to (Renko et al., 2015, p.63), the awareness of a leader has an influence on the motivational approach and psychological state of an employee. In this age of uncertainty, the leader plays an essential role in promoting innovation and motivation of the employees. Competition in the business is increasing and use of the wrong leadership style will have a negative impact on the employees and the businesses. When there is a high level of interaction between the leaders and the employees, performance will increase. (Wong and Laschinger, 2013, p.952) affirm that leaders help to motivate the employees and empower them to become more effective in their delivery of service. Better engagement will also contribute to creativity as employees will be free to give suggestions and seek opinions from both the leaders and other employees. When employees are less engaged, there is less motivation and creativity thus, the presence of a decreased performance. Not involving employees in the decision-making process of the company can be harmful as they will not feel involved and not part of the company and that will affect their performance.

Impact of leadership styles on job satisfaction, passion, commitment and job involvement

Performance outcome is dependent on the commitment, satisfaction, and involvement of the employees. According to (Yahaya and Ebrahim, 2016, p.196), organizations and leaders have acknowledged that they face rapid changes and a wave of uncertainty on how to manage employees and ensure excellent performance outcome. A Style of leadership can determine the involvement and satisfaction of the employees. When better engaged in processes and decision making, employees tend to be committed and more enthusiastic to perform the task. Less engagement means less commitment and passion and that will impact the productivity of the employees. For instance, an autocratic leadership, decision making and power are centered around the leader and the employees have little or no involvement. Employees will end up feeling less appreciated thus less job satisfaction, commitment, and involvement. Employee retention will also be an issue and the organization will end up losing the best talent which will have a negative effect on the long-term running of the company.

Leadership Style Impact on Motivation, Goal Setting, and Empowerment

Different forms of leadership play a key role in empowerment, motivation, and confidence among the employees. According to (Bronkhorst et al., 2015, p.125), transformational leaders are able to set more goals and challenges for their employees thus help in reducing constraints which lead to reduced performance. When goal setting is hampered, there is less performance from the employees. When employees do not feel empowered in the roles they play in the organization, they will tend to become less interested in their tasks. Using better forms of leadership will influence the motivation of the employee and ensure they are empowered which will lead to more passion, loyalty, and commitment to the organization. Apart from better salary compensation, employees want to work in places where they will grow their skills and where their effort is appreciated. The style of leadership will influence that and hence have an impact on the performance outcome.


In this age of uncertainty, leaders and leadership style have a major influence organizational performance. Aspects such as employee engagement determine the motivation, commitment, job involvement, creativity and innovation of the employees. For both the organization and employees to benefit, the style of leadership used should favor all the parties. By better engaging the employees in the decision making and processes in an organization, performance will improve and there will be fewer constraints that will hinder performance outcomes. Styles of leadership also influence employee retention and elements such as absenteeism and conflict in the workplace. Desirable leadership techniques should be developed and implemented that will be used to ensure effective employee engagement, performance, and retention in an organization.


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January 19, 2024

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