Transformational leadership and depressive symptoms among employees: mediating factors

Kaisa Perko (School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Psychology, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland)
Ulla Kinnunen (School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Psychology, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland)
Taru Feldt (Department of Psychology, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Publication date: 27 May 2014

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine whether the link between transformational leadership and depressive symptoms among employees is mediated by such personal resources as occupational self-efficacy, perceived meaningfulness of the work, and work-related rumination.

Design/methodology/approach

The study was conducted using questionnaires among 557 Finnish municipal employees in various occupations. The statistical analysis was based on structural equation modeling. A multiple mediation model enabled us to investigate the specific indirect effects of each mediator. Model comparison was applied to ascertain whether the mediation should be considered as full or partial.

Findings

Results based on model comparison showed that the proposed factors fully mediated the negative relationship between transformational leadership and depressive symptoms. Thus high level of transformational leadership was associated with high levels of occupational self-efficacy and perceived meaningfulness of the work, and low level of work-related rumination during off-job time, which, in turn, were associated with low level of depressive symptoms. The fully mediated model explained 36 percent of the variance in depressive symptoms. All of the three mediators made a unique contribution to this relationship.

Research limitations/implications

The results imply that transformational leadership behaviors may decrease depressiveness among employees through strengthening the personal resources of employees. However, as the study is cross-sectional, causal relationships can only be hypothesized.

Originality/value

The study sheds new light on the possible processes through which transformational leaders may exert their health-promoting effects on employees even in terms of depressive symptoms.

Keywords

Citation

Kaisa Perko, Ulla Kinnunen and Taru Feldt (2014) "Transformational leadership and depressive symptoms among employees: mediating factors", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 35 No. 4, pp. 286-304

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DOI

: https://doi.org/10.1108/LODJ-07-2012-0082

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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