Empowering Leadership Promotes Creativity

Innovation and creativity seem to be the name of the game in the current zeitgeist of organizations, no matter which field. As such, many organizations are constantly looking for ways to boost their employees’ creativity. However, while many organizations look to outside solutions, they may be overlooking a powerful force for creativity already within their organizations. Researchers in this study (Zhou et al., 2024) investigated the specific impacts that empowering leaders have on their employees’ ability to be creative.


The researchers conducted two studies. The first study asked participants to respond to fictional vignettes about work scenarios, and the second study asked employees of several Chinese companies to report their workplace experiences. Across both studies, the researchers found that empowering leadership led to employees feeling more obligated to participate in constructive change for the organization. This was especially true for employees who more closely identified with the organization. From the real employee data, the researchers found that when employees felt the need to participate in constructive change, they were also inspired to align their jobs with personal needs (job crafting) and be more creative.


To maximize the benefits of empowering leadership, organizations should consider doing the following:

  • Encourage leaders to be empowering. This can involve working to improve the meaning employees find in work, including employees in the decision-making process, and granting employees autonomy wherever possible.
  • Help employees identify with the organization. Based on the study results, employees who personally identified with their organization reaped the most benefits from empowering leadership.
  • Create working conditions that support change. The need for constructive change that employees felt was an important sequential step in the link between empowering leadership and creativity. Leaders should ensure that employees have the resources needed to create change within their jobs and their organizations.


Zhou, Y., Cheng, Y., Liu, G., Zhang, Z., & Zhu, H. (2024). How does empowering leadership promote employee creativity? The sequential mediating mechanism of felt obligation for constructive change and job crafting. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 148, 103955.

Image credit: Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images