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Workplaces are increasingly diverse and dynamic, making it imperative to innovate (Anderson, Potocnik, & Zhou, 2014). At the same time, employee wellbeing is paramount to a company’s reputation and the longevity of its workforce (Huhtala & Parzefall, 2007). Cultivating wellbeing and innovation in tandem, therefore, provides a strong foundation for organisations to flourish.
Several studies examine the positive impact of supportive leaders on wellbeing and innovation, however few researchers have distilled the specific leadership behaviours that drive these outcomes (George & Zhou, 2007). Professors Choi (Korea University), Tran (University of Ulsan), and Kang (Gachon University) address this gap by investigating inclusive leadership, which they define as leader openness, accessibility and availability to meet employees’ needs.
The researchers sought to determine whether inclusive leadership behaviours positively impact employee wellbeing and innovation. Moreover, they wanted to understand the underlying processes that could explain these positive effects. In essence, the researchers found that inclusive leadership enhances employees’ perceptions that they are a good fit for their job role, and in turn, this acts as a catalyst to bolster wellbeing and innovative behaviours.
The aim was to explore the effects of inclusive leadership by answering the following research questions:
An online survey was administered to 207 employees across five telecommunication organisations in Vietnam. The survey evaluated:
Inclusive leadership had positive effects on both employee wellbeing (β= .19, p <.01) and innovation (β = .19, p <.05).
But how did inclusive leadership exert these positive effects?
Findings indicated that the underlying mechanism was an improved fit between individuals and their job role. Inclusive leadership was found to enhance experiences of person-job fit and this in turn improved wellbeing and innovation (wellbeing, .04, p <.05; innovation, .07 < .05).
Consistent with leader-member exchange theory, inclusive leadership may help to cultivate high-quality relationships between leaders and their followers (Carmeli, Palmon, & Ziv, 2010). This results in greater attentiveness to followers’ unique needs, desires and preferences, enabling followers to experience better fit with their job role. When employees feel congruence between their unique skills and the demands of their job, this has been shown to lower exhaustion and increase satisfaction, confidence, motivation and a desire to learn (Babakus, Yavas, & Ashill, 2011).
Organisations looking to develop employee wellbeing and innovation should consider increasing the presence of inclusive leadership behaviours through:
Alongside cultivating inclusive leadership, improving employee perceptions of their fit with their job seems a viable avenue for enhancing wellbeing and innovation. Actionable steps include:
Inclusive leadership together with improved person-job fit is likely to have a multiplicative effect in driving benefits on wellbeing and innovative performance. The combination of wellbeing and performance lends a powerful competitive edge in the contemporary work environment.
For more information, contact Andrea Espedido
To read the full article, see Choi, S. B., Tran, T. B. H., & Kang, S. W. (2017). Inclusive leadership and employee wellbeing: The mediating role of person-job fit. Journal of Happiness Studies, 18, 1877-1901.
Anderson, N., Potocnik, K., & Zhou, J. (2014). Innovation and creativity in organizations: A state-of-the-science review, prospective commentary, and guiding framework. Journal of Management, 40(5), 1297-1333.
Carmeli, A., Reiter-Palmon, R., & Ziv, E. (2010). Inclusive leadership and employee involvement in creative tasks in the workplace: The mediating role of psychological safety. Creativity Research Journal, 22(3), 250-260.
George, J. M., & Zhou, J. (2007). Dual tuning in supportive context: Joint conributions of positive mood, negative mood, and supervisory behaviors to employee creativity. Academy of Management Journal, 52(4), 765-778.
Huhtala, H. & Parzefall, M. R. (2007). Promotion of employee wellbeing and innovativeness: An opportunity for a mutual benefit. Creativity and Innovation Management, 16(3), 299-307.
Ohly, S., & Fritz, C. (2010). Work characteristics, challenge appraisal, creativity, and proactive behaviour: A multi-level study. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 31(4), 543-565.
As part of her PhD/Masters in Organisational Psychology, she has developed expertise in the areas of leadership and innovation, while acquiring experience in corporations such as PwC, CBA, and Lendlease. Her proven ability in consulting and leadership development is coupled with strong academic and data analytic skills, as evidenced by international prizes and a First Class Honours degree.