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Leadership and work engagement: A conflict management perspective

Book - Dissertation

Engaging leadership is a leadership style where leaders fulfil the basic needs of their followers to increase work engagement. Based on Self-Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan, 2000) and the work of Frankl (1992), this leadership behaviour should enhance their followers' autonomy through empowering, their competence through strengthening, their relatedness through connecting, and their meaningfulness through inspiring. As more and more organizations are looking for ways to increase the levels of work engagement in their employees, engaging leadership is crucial in achieving this goal. The scope of engaging leadership is, however, limited to an individual perspective, while most work is performed in teams (Marks, Matthieu & Zaccaro, 2001). While working in teams has many benefits, negative processes as team conflict are also present (De Dreu, 2008). The effect of conflict on positive types of well-being as work engagement and the role of leadership in this process is, however, not frequently researched. This dissertation aims to investigate the emerging concept of engaging leadership at individual and team level from a team conflict perspective.After an introductory chapter, Chapter 2 presents the first empirical study, where engaging leadership is investigated from a multi-trait, multi-method perspective (MTMM) to study the different dimensions (i.e. empowering, strengthening, connecting, inspiring) of engaging leadership from the perspective of four different types of raters (i.e. self, followers, supervisor, and colleagues). The study provided evidence that a general engaging leadership scale was preferred over a model that differentiates between different dimensions. Follower, supervisor, and colleague-ratings were found to be highly correlated. In Chapter 3, we present a study where we investigate the premise of engaging leadership. As conceptualized, engaging leadership was related to work engagement, through basic needs satisfaction. Furthermore, we examined the role of open conflict norms; a team process in which team members can address conflicts openly and constructively. Open conflict norms was related to work engagement, mediated by basic needs satisfaction. Additionally, we found that engaging leadership also had an impact on open conflict norms. Chapter 4 provides evidence of the mediating role of conflict and its management between leadership and performance. This chapter includes two empirical studies. In the first study, we investigated the impact of team conflict on team performance in addition to basic needs satisfaction. Both, team conflict and basic needs satisfaction were related to engaging leadership. In the second study, we investigated how leadership is related to team conflict. We used a multi-level mediation model where both open conflict norms and peacemaking mediated between engaging leadership and team conflict. While both mediators were related to engaging leadership, only open conflict norms mediated the relationship between engaging leadership and team conflict. Finally, in Chapter 5 the main results of the studies are summarized. The theoretical and practical implications are discussed, along with limitations of the studies and suggestions for future research.
Publication year:2021