NEHRA Insights - Fall 2011 - (Page 17)
The Impact of Leader Behavior on Employee Health
Lessons for Leadership Development
By Richard Williams, Ph.D., Wallace Higgins, MBA; and Harvey Greenberg, MS, MBA HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH. Research once again has
our boss should come with a warning label: MAY BE
confirmed what we’ve always suspected: your boss can cause you stress, induce depression and anxiety or even trigger the onset of serious illness. It is not just bad managers who can negatively affect employee health, but it is also the lackadaisical and mediocre who can put employees on the sick list.
While the cost to employees is their health, welfare and sometimes their income, the cost to workplaces is lost productivity, turnover, training, disability payments and staggering health insurance premiums. Moreover, a whole new field of litigation is opening: lawsuits against “bad” bosses and the organizations that negligently allow them to supervise. But hope is not lost. A careful review of the research on leadership behavior and employee health yields some important surprises about leadership development and its potential impact on employee health and performance. There appears to be a clear relationship between leader behaviors and employee health, which is a prerequisite for good performance. Furthermore, those behaviors are specific enough to be part of an effective leadership development program.
THE SECRET OF LEADERSHIP STUDIES The research on leadership and employee health research spotlights a lurking secret in the field of leadership studies. Despite a vast literature on leadership and more than 50 years of investigation, in reality we know very little about leadership. There are generally two types of literature on leadership: the mythic and the academic. The mythic consists of confident assertions about the nature of leadership, for example The Leadership Secrets of Genghis Khan. These writings, no matter how popular, are opinions, often insightful, but with little or no factual basis. A 2002 survey, done by Connie Vance and Elaine Larson, of the literature on leadership from 1970 to 1999 found that only 4 percent were founded on data.
foundation is specific leader behaviors, rather than leadership style. RESEARCH ON LEADER BEHAVIORS AND EMPLOYEE HEALTH The impact of leader behaviors on employee health is a new vein of leadership research. More than 30 studies conducted over the last decade show clearly that leader behaviors do affect employee
Your boss should come with a warning label: MAY BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH.
The academic type is either theoretical (which is often just mythic presented in academic language) or researchbased. However, the many thousands of studies that have been done have failed either to validate statistically the efficacy of any theory of leadership or to establish a clear relationship between leadership style and employee performance. The leadership and health research supports a fact-based approach whose
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of NEHRA Insights - Fall 2011
MESSAGE FROM NEHRA’s Chair & Executive Director
EMPLOYMENT LAW Update
PRODUCTS AND SERVICES Marketplace
DISCOVER YOUR HR LEADERSHIP BRAND
CREATIVESHIP Purpose, Engagement, Performance, Innovation, Branding, Growth
IMPACT OF LEADER BEHAVIOR ON EMPLOYEE HEALTH
FROM INNER CRITIC TO INNER STRENGTH
INDEX OF Advertisers/Advertiser.com
NEHRA Insights - Fall 2011