Problem: The well-being and health of workers can decrease substantially when their place of work is closed down. A smooth transition and well-managed closedown process, however, has shown to ease these effects. Despite this, very little research has been conducted on how leaders can manage a closedown process well.
The purpose of this study, therefore, was to examine whether the ‘authentic’ and ‘transformational’ forms of leadership could ease the negative experiences of employees during organisational closedowns.
Method: Employee accounts of closedown processes were obtained by conducting semi-structured interviews. These were then analysed against the existing body of research on closedown processes, employee reactions to such processes and authentic and transformational leadership. Causal relationships were sought between the actions and behaviour of leaders and the reactions and experiences of employees.
Findings: This study found features of authentic and/or transformational leadership in all of the employee accounts that were examined. From this data, it can be deduced that the leadership features that were found, at least partly, eased the negative experiences of employees during closedown processes.
In particular, the following eight authentic and transformational leadership characteristics were shown to have eased employee perceptions of closedowns: self-awareness, relational transparency, individualised consideration, inspirational motivation, idealised influence, encouraging the heart, inspiring a shared vision and meaning through communication.
Conclusion: When weighing the evidence, it can be concluded that certain aspects of the authentic and transformational leadership constructs can ease the negative experiences of employees during closedown processes.
Authentic leadership features related to high relational transparency and high self-awareness were mentioned most frequently by the former employees interviewed, and can therefore be considered most important when seeking to ease employee experiences of closedown situations. With this being said, the many transformational leadership features mentioned by the interview respondents should not be disregarded.
Although individual features attributable to transformational leadership were not mentioned as frequently, a greater range of such features was communicated by the respondents. It is argued, therefore, that a combination of the two concepts would be most effective when seeking to improve employee experiences and leadership during closedowns.
Source: Jönköping University
Author: Boman, Anna | Sofipour, Shillan | Toremark, Julia