Greger Wikstand, a Capgemini consultant (plus much more), and I exchanged Tweets on my post, “Leadership, The Secret (Pt 6): Scientifically Unproven.” He asked me to look at some science that apparently proved good leadership begets good results. After tweeting what I look for in these studies, he suggested I read the study more thoroughly and write about them.
The research Greger had me analyze was an excellent exercise for which I am grateful to him for suggesting. It’s a systematic analysis of current literature on leadership’s predictability of:
- Job well-being
- Risk of sick leaves
- Early retirement
- Job satisfaction
- Job performance
Interesting enough, after “109 articles were thoroughly analyzed” and “conclusions [were] based on 27 articles providing the best evidence,” (see Abstract, Objective pg. 904) the study concluded only a “moderate association” with the first three and “weak associations” with the last two (see Discussion pg 910). In other words, while leadership might be good for employee’s health, “the relationship between leadership and performance remains unclear.” (see Abstract, Conclusions pg. 904). So, in terms of my post, the only thing this research seems to prove is that good leadership begetting good results, especially performance, is still unproven.
Nevertheless, Greger wanted to know what I examine in these studies. One important aspect I mentioned is definitions. They form studies’ foundations. Varying the definition of a ball will change outcomes. Leadership works the same. This study provided no definitions of leadership, let alone definitions of good leadership, used by the analyzed studies. More astounding, 62 different leadership models were used to assess leadership (see Description of Studies pg. 907). This inconsistency dynamically influences hypotheses, methodology, results and conclusions.
Thus, reconnecting this study to this series on leadership’s secret, the conclusions (especially those regarding performance) and inconsistent assessment approaches confirm the subjective, arbitrary nature of leadership – it’s real secret. It makes defining and studying leadership in any consistent manner difficult, if not impossible, and is probably why this study concluded that “there is a relative lack of well-founded prospective studies” in this area (see Abstract, Conclusions pg. 904).
Referenced study: Leadership, Job Well-Being, and Health Effects – A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis by Jaana Kuoppala, MD, PhD; Anne Lamminpää, MD, PhD; Juha Liira, MD, PhD; and Harri Vainio, MD, PhD (12 pgs.)
- Leadership, The Secret
- Leadership, The Secret (Pt 2): Training Implications
- Leadership, The Secret (Pt 3): Leader as Actor
- Leadership, The Secret (Pt 4): Leadership Riddle
- Leadership, The Secret (Pt 5): Persona
- Leadership, The Secret (Pt 6): Scientifically Unproven
- Leadership, The Secret (Pt 7): Experts, Research & Beauty Contests
- Leadership, The Secret (Pt 8): Top Rule Violator
- Leadership, The Secret (Pt 9): Problems Defining & Studying
- Leadership’s Secret Physical Characteristics
- With More Power Less Empathy
- With More Power Less Thinking Occurs?
- Trump and Hillary Showing the Lawlessness of Leadership