Research has found a strong relationship between ethical leadership and employee job performance. It makes sense that if employees have supervisors who are strong role models for ethical behavior, the employees themselves will have ethical accountability and be more motivated to work toward long-term organizational success. At the same time, psychological empowerment and emotional exhaustion appear to be important factors in predicting employee success, even when employees have ethical leaders.
ROLE OF PSYCHOLOGICAL EMPOWERMENT
The authors (Dust et al., 2018) conducted research to find how psychological empowerment could affect the relationship between ethical leadership and employee success. Psychological empowerment is defined as employees being actively driven to work. The researchers extended their work to predict not only employee success with one’s current job, but also future success potential.
The researchers surveyed 219 employees and their supervisors. Results suggest that psychological empowerment is an important link between ethical leadership and employee success on the current job. The results also suggest that psychological empowerment acts as a link between ethical leadership and future success potential. In other words, even with ethical leadership, psychological empowerment is shown to be needed for both current and future employee success.
ROLE OF EMOTIONAL EXHAUSTION
The researchers also examined how emotional exhaustion affects the relationship between ethical leadership and employee success. Emotional exhaustion is defined as feeling emotionally spent and burnt out from one’s work. Again, the researchers looked at current job success as well as future success potential.
The researchers found that emotional exhaustion also played an important role in the relationship between ethical leadership and employee success. For employees who experienced more emotional exhaustion, there was a lower chance of current job success as well as future success, even with the presence of ethical leadership and psychological empowerment.
Based on this research, the authors offer a few key ideas on how to increase current and future employee success. First, they recommend developing managers’ ethical leadership abilities; doing so will likely increase motivation and ethical behavior in employees. Second, they recommend that supervisors regularly monitor employee workloads and emerging challenges. Third, the authors recommend that employees be trained in how to recognize stress-triggers and how to cope with them. In all, this research shows that ethical leaders should pay close attention to the level of job motivation and exhaustion experienced by their employees.
Dust, S.B., Resick, C.J., Margolis, J.A., Mawritz, M.B., & Greenbaum, R.L. (2018). Ethical leadership and employee success: Examining the roles of psychological empowerment and emotional exhaustion. The Leadership Quarterly, 29, 570-583.