Authentic Leadership leads to better work-family dynamic!

James Kelley – Ph.D.

All right, so today’s topic is something that I was curious about, and so I did a little digging in the academic world. The topic focuses on the intersection of work-family and the impact of an authentic leader in and on the employee. The article is from 2017 in “Leadership Quarterly,” by Dr. Susan Braun, and Dr. Karolina Nieberle titled, “Authentic Leadership Extends Beyond Work: A multi-level model of work-family conflict and enrichment.”

Here is the big, burning question(s) in the article:

Does the impact of an authentic leader have a significant effect on a follower’s family life? Can an authentic leader help enhance, enrich their home life and at the same time, minimize the potential conflict that they have at home? The framework of the article is based on a concept work-home resource model from two smarter people than I, Dr. ten Brummelhuis and Dr, Bakker.

The work-home resource model is predicated on the idea that a toxic work environment depletes your ability to personally cope leading to individuals taking negative stress home and impacting those relationships. This is termed ‘work-family conflict.’

On the other side of ‘work-family conflict,’ the authors propose that if the environment is healthy, giving, and creates space for individuals to have meaningful relationships in the workplace, they will have a ‘work-family enrichment experience.’ Essentially, great vibes at work will mean great vibes at home.

Now as someone who grew up in a house whose mom was always in a ‘work-family conflict’ mode, I can tell you that it had a direct impact on me as a child. I spent 20 years dreading the real world, dreading the fact that I had to work nine to five, dreading that I would have a boss and just thinking that work in general sucked. So, this article speaks to me.

Here’s what they found in this article. Maybe this isn’t that surprising to you, but they went out and researched ten teams of at least two individuals per team, so two followers, and then ten leaders. They acknowledged this is not a huge sample, but went out to get a larger sample, and just struggled to get the survey’s returned.

Here is what they found.

As they researched these teams, they found that when a follower perceives an authentic leader as being more authentic, espousing the values of authenticity in the workplace, the follower minimizes their work-life conflict. It reduces it. So, there’s this negative relationship. Thus, the more authentic, the less work-family conflict that there is. This indicates that the way we interact at work minimizes us bringing home our negative sh*t.

The other thing that they looked at was this idea of, “if someone is perceived as an off-the-charts authentic leader, how does that impact the follower’s home life as well?”

They found that the stronger the perceptions of the authentic leader by the follower, the more the follower felt lifted up, the more they felt engaged in the workplace, and thus the more that the follower took their work environment home with them. We know that engagement in the workplace is awful right now. It’s roughly 33% in the U.S. based on the Gallup Organization and approximately around 19% globally, so it’s pretty lousy all-in-all.

So, here’s the important thing, as an organization, if we can create leadership development programs that allow your leaders to lead more authentically, create a more enriched environment, your employees will go home to their families and espouse those values as well. If we can get ‘followers’ to have a happier home, they’re going to come to work more prepared, more ready, and more productive.

To read more of my blogs, go to www.drjameskelley.com

Until next time,

Dr. James Kelley