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Towards an understanding of the effect of leadership on employee wellbeing and organizational outcomes in Australian universities
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Ataus SamadAtaus Samad, Peter ReaburnPeter Reaburn, H Davis, Ezaz AhmedEzaz Ahmed
Leadership is increasingly becoming a major research focus in both the corporate and higher education sector (HES). Previous studies have shown that different leadership styles play a significant role in promoting both employee wellbeing and organizational outcomes. However, at present there is a lack of clear understanding of how leadership style, employee wellbeing and organizational outcomes such as job satisfaction, organizational commitment and turnover intention concurrently interact in the HES context, particularly within Australian regional university settings. A review of leadership studies literature also suggests that researchers have either focused on the relationship between a specific leadership style and wellbeing; leadership styles and organizational outcomes, or the relationship between wellbeing and organizational outcomes. However, rarely do empirical studies examine all three concurrently. More expansive and pluralist research approaches are needed if we are to better understand the contextual complexities of leadership in the current HES. For a complex organization such as a university, an effective way of examining leadership may be by applying leadership theories that examine a diverse range of leadership styles that may have both positive and negative outcomes. The Full Range of Leadership Theory (FRLT) examines transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership styles within a single continuum that may provide away to concurrently examine how these differing leadership styles may impact on leadership effectiveness in the HES context. In this review paper, drawn from a current PhD study, contexts for leadership practice in HES today will be explored, then leadership studies literature more generally will be reviewed to locate amenable leadership approaches for this work. Lastly, possibilities for leadership approaches that concurrently address issues of wellbeing and outcomes will be discussed. Specifically, the FRLT will be used as a frame to examine transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership approaches within a single continuum as to identify how FRLT may differ from or concur with leadership theories and approaches understood more generally to fit within post-heroic leadership studies standpoints.