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Trust in leader as a pathway between ethical leadership and safety compliance

Ibeawuchi K. Enwereuzor (Department of Psychology, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria)
Busayo A. Adeyemi (Department of Psychology, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria)
Ike E. Onyishi (Department of Psychology, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria and Department of Psychology, University of Muenster, Muenster, Germany)

Leadership in Health Services

ISSN: 1751-1879

Article publication date: 11 March 2020

Issue publication date: 23 April 2020

1654

Abstract

Purpose

Although a great number of studies have established the important role of leadership in workplace safety, it appears researchers are yet to consider the role that trust in leaders could play between ethical leadership and safety compliance within healthcare. To address that imbalance, this study aims to investigate the relationship between ethical leadership and safety compliance, with trust in the leader as the mediator.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were collected in three time periods from 237 hospital staff nurses (76.8 per cent women and 23.2 per cent men). Ordinary least squares regression-based path analysis using PROCESS for statistical package for the social sciences (SPSS) macro was used to test the hypotheses.

Findings

Results showed that ethical leadership was positively related to trust in a leader but was not related to safety compliance. In addition, trust in leader was positively related to safety compliance and also mediated the positive relationship between ethical leadership and safety compliance.

Research limitations/implications

The data were collected within healthcare organisations in a few localities in Nigeria, making it difficult to generalise the findings beyond the current sample let alone the entire country or even continent.

Practical implications

The findings imply that ethical leadership may not be directly effective in improving the safety compliance of subordinate nurses unless such a leader first develops a trust-based relationship with the subordinates.

Originality/value

The current study builds on and extends the burgeoning research in the area of leadership and employee outcome by investigating not only the direct relationship between ethical leadership and safety compliance but also incorporating trust in a leader as a mediator of this relationship.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

We express our gratitude to all the medical directors who granted permission for the study to be conducted in their hospitals and all the nurses in these hospitals who participated in the study. We also thank the two anonymous reviewers who made useful suggestions that helped in improving the paper.

Declarations of interest: on behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Funding: this research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Citation

Enwereuzor, I.K., Adeyemi, B.A. and Onyishi, I.E. (2020), "Trust in leader as a pathway between ethical leadership and safety compliance", Leadership in Health Services, Vol. 33 No. 2, pp. 201-219. https://doi.org/10.1108/LHS-09-2019-0063

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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