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Transformational leader attributes: interpersonal skills, engagement, and well-being

Jennifer Mencl (Labovitz School of Business and Economics, University of Minnesota Duluth, Duluth, Minnesota, USA)
Andrew J. Wefald (Staley School of Leadership Studies, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, USA)
Kyle W. van Ittersum (Department of Psychological Sciences, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, USA)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 4 July 2016




The purpose of this paper is to examine the effects of interpersonal skills (emotional and political skills) and work engagement on transformational leadership and leader well-being at work.


Emotional control, emotional sensitivity, political skills, work engagement, transformational leadership behaviors, and job satisfaction were assessed in an empirical study of 278 employees. The relationships between emotional skills, political skills, work engagement, and transformational leadership were evaluated using participants in managerial positions (n=159). The combined influence of interpersonal skills and work engagement on job satisfaction was examined as a comparison between managers and non-managers (n=119).


In addition to the positive effects of work engagement on outcome measures, results showed political skill is an important capability contributing to transformational leadership and leaders’ job satisfaction. Findings also showed the interaction of emotional skill, political skill, and work engagement contributed to job satisfaction among managers.

Practical implications

Organizations must provide managers with opportunities to develop political skills or modify selection processes to identify candidates who possess political skills for management positions. Organizations will also benefit from implementing ways to engage managers in their work to facilitate transformational leader behaviors and promote their well-being. In addition, organizations can work to identify and develop managers’ emotional control and sensitivity skills specific to individual needs.


Research investigating personal attributes that influence transformational leadership as an outcome is limited. This study contributes to the leadership literature and sheds light on the literature on the microfoundations of management competencies by examining managers’ skills and engagement on their leader behaviors and job satisfaction. Insights are discovered regarding the combination of emotional skills, political skills, and work engagement that indicate interpersonal skills and engagement have supplementary effects on transformational leader behaviors and leader well-being.



Mencl, J., Wefald, A.J. and van Ittersum, K.W. (2016), "Transformational leader attributes: interpersonal skills, engagement, and well-being", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 37 No. 5, pp. 635-657.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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