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How interpersonal leadership relates to employee engagement

Anne Hansen (PDRI-Washington, DC, Arlington, Virginia, USA)
Zinta Byrne (Department of Psychology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA)
Christa Kiersch (Department of Management, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, La Crosse, Wisconsin, USA)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 4 November 2014




The purpose of this paper is to examine organizational identification as an underlying mechanism for how perceptions of interpersonal leadership are related to employee engagement, and its relationship with commitment and job tension.


A sample of 451 full-time employees at an international firm completed a web-based survey.


Organizational identification mediated the relationship between perceived interpersonal leadership and engagement, which mediated the relationship between perceived interpersonal leadership and commitment. Engagement mediated the relationship between identification and job tension.

Research limitations/implications

Limitations include cross-sectional data. Strengths include a large field sample. Implication is that leaders who encourage employees’ identification with the organization may also encourage their engagement.

Practical implications

Interpersonal leadership characteristics can be developed, and are positively related to employees’ identification, commitment, and engagement, which are negatively related to job tension.

Social implications

Interpersonal leaders are positively associated with employees’ engagement; high engagement has been related to positive employee health and well-being. A healthy workforce translates into a healthy society.


This study is one of the few to examine the underlying mechanisms through which leadership relates to engagement.



Hansen, A., Byrne, Z. and Kiersch, C. (2014), "How interpersonal leadership relates to employee engagement", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 29 No. 8, pp. 953-972.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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