Leadership and Well-Being

LEADhealth Project

The overall objective of the LEADhealth project was to comprehensively determine the effect of direct supervisors’ leadership on health of workers with low socioeconomic status (SES).

SES is a complex and multidimensional concept which captures numerous indicators including education, economic resources, power, and occupational rank within a social-economic hierarchy that have been extensively linked to physical and psychological wellbeing across the lifespan.

In the LEADhealth project, looked into multiple indicators of SES to systematically and thoroughly access the potential change in the relationship between leadership and health among workers who vary on different dimensions of SES.

On the one hand, we looked into both leadership forms that are constructive (e.g., supportive or ethical leadership) as well as destructive (e.g., abusive supervision) and test whether the differences in leadership can indeed help explain why some workers with low socioeconomic status stay healthy while others suffer from poor health. On the other hand, we aimed at investigating leadership effects on physical and psychological health, understood as the absence of negative dimensions (e.g., burnout, chronic stress, physical ill-being), but also as the presence of positive dimensions (e.g., perceived health, psychological well-being).

To reach the objective of the project, we performed three empirical studies: a meta-analysis, a study based on a large-scale survey on a representative sample of Dutch workers, and a longitudinal survey study in the first eight months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

ZonMw logo

The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development. ZonMw funds health research and stimulates the use of the knowledge developed to improve health and health care. ZonMw promotes care innovation throughout the entire knowledge chain, from fundamental research to implementation. Through various subsidy programmes ZonMw supports development and practical application in the area of prevention improvement, care and health. The work field of the knowledge chain as a whole is broad, making ZonMw a unique organisation. ZonMw’s main commissioning organisations are the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research.

Research studies

Meet our Team

Picture of Claudia Buengeler

Claudia Buengeler

Full Professor and Chair of the Human Resource Management and Organization Department at the Institute of Business, Kiel University

Picture of Deanne N. den Hartog

Deanne N. den Hartog

Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Faculty of Economics and Business of the University of Amsterdam

Picture of Diana Boer

Diana Boer

Professor of Social and Organizational Psychology at the University of Koblenz-Landau

Picture of Sofija Pajić

Sofija Pajić

Postdoctoral researcher within Leadership and Management section at the University of Amsterdam, Faculty of Economics and Business, Amsterdam Business School

Science-practice transfer and networking workshop

“LeadHealth - How to successfully lead for better employee health"

On October 8th, 2021 our science-practice transfer and networking workshop “LEADhealth – How to successfully lead for better employee health” took place at the University of Amsterdam and virtually via Zoom.

The objective of the workshop was to share the results of the recent research performed within the LEADhealth project, highlighting evidence of particular practical relevance, and discussing ways of implementing this knowledge in organizations. We came together with 18 representatives from organizations (e.g., consultancies, private organizations) and universities in the Netherlands, as well as several international participants.

A number of keynote speakers enriched the workshop with their perspectives on leadership and wellbeing originating from academic research and organizational practice. Kimberley Breevaart, Associate Professor from Erasmus University Rotterdam spoke about the impact of leader behaviors on employee daily work engagement. Eloisa Federici, PhD who works within Behavioral Risk Team at ING Bank spoke about how leadership and wellbeing are addressed by their organization. Juliana Guedes Almeida, PhD from The Amsterdam People Analytics Center shared insights on the impact of abusive leaders on employees from the perspective of a number of organizations that she collaborated in her practice. From a lively discussion, participants and speakers identified several main takeaway messages for practice:

  • Being a leader is complex and usually come without sufficient training and preparation. Leader development and mentorship programs should prepare leaders for their role, and especially for managing vulnerable employee such are those with lower SES.
  • Feedback systems through which employees communicate back to supervisors should be in place, including the systems that facilitate employees with lower SES who often perform lower-level jobs to communicate back to their leaders.
  • Daily in-person check-ins can be used to get employees and leaders aligned how everyone is in terms of wellbeing.
  • Technological tools should be employed to facilitate feedback circulation on daily basis on the levels of resources and demands that both employees and leaders are experiencing.
  • Vulnerability is complex, and includes many more dimensions than the investigated dimensions of SES. What makes an employee vulnerable can also change over time.
  • Policy and regulation should set the basic rules on how we treat each other and do things in an organization, including how leaders should treat their employees. However, organizational culture is crucial. Holding each other accountable could help in monitoring the behaviors of potentially destructive leaders.

We are looking forward to continuing the discussion among stakeholders!

Lecturer in front of the audience. Lecturer speaking in the workshop. Dr. Kimberly's presentation slide. Lecturer and the audience in the backgorund.
  • Deanne den Hartog

    Professor of Organizational Behavior, Universiteit van Amsterdam

  • Claudia Buengeler

    Professor or Human Resource Management and Organization, Kiel University

    Sofija Pajic

    Postdoctoral Researcher in Organizational Behavior, Universiteit van Amsterdam

Research supported by: