Research by: Bindu Gupta, Rakesh Singh, & Sandeep Puri
In the present turbulent and uncertain environments, organizations increasingly rely on the strengths and talents of their employees and aspire for tools and techniques to develop them. For a long time, the primary focus of the research was on exploring how the vertical influence process (i.e., top-down) facilitates the creation and development of an engaging and high performing workforce. Although in certain situations this leadership style is appropriate, the present business scenario requires a shift in leadership skills. With the changing work context such as the introduction of the virtual environment, flexi-time, telecommuting, and so on, employees may not always work under direct supervision. In this context, it has become critical for the employee to learn to self-lead which is an acceptable leadership theme.
Research in the self-leadership domain suggests that increasing individual effectiveness has a positive influence on organizational outcomes. There have been continuous efforts to understand the effect of self-leadership on employee performance. A series of studies opined that self-leadership has a direct effect on performance. Other research suggests mediating variables linking self-leadership and performance. Self-leadership leads to higher job satisfaction, low absenteeism, and numerous positive health- and work-related outcomes in organizations.
We have tried to integrate the research linking self-leadership and performance, and by following the multi-dimensional model of leadership, have explored the cognitive and motivational explanation of employee performance. We include the cognitive variables: thought self-leadership (TSL), and self-efficacy and motivational variable, work engagement. We argue that TSL leads to high self-efficacy and high self-efficacy leads to enhanced performance through work engagement. This research contributes to the domain of self-leadership and performance by integrating the earlier research and explores the effect of specific self-leadership strategies on larger job-roles. This study has used the social cognitive theory and job demands-resources (JD-R) theory to explain the effect of TSL on self-efficacy and of self-efficacy on performance and mediating role of work engagement on the proposed relationship.
The other contribution of the study lies in identifying the mediating relationships among the study variables in Indian contexts compared to western culture. Most of the research on the application of self-leadership is in the western context which is characterized by low power distance and high on individualism. There is a debate that the research findings that appear in the western context may not apply to another cultural context like India, which is high on power distance and low on individualism.
This research aims to examine the effect of thought self-leadership (TSL) on performance through self-efficacy and work engagement. The study collected data through a questionnaire survey administered to the employees of various Indian organizations representing different roles. The findings suggest relationships between TSL and performance and mediation mechanism through which self-efficacy impacts performance. The contribution of the study lies in integrating the research in self-leadership and performance area and testing the relationship in a different cultural context.
The present study proposed and tested a model that links TSL, self-efficacy, work-engagement, and performance. The findings of this study support the model suggesting the path linking TSL and performance. It suggests that TSL has an indirect effect on performance through self-efficacy and work engagement. It also suggests work engagement as a significant mediator between self-efficacy and performance. Self-efficacy leads to high performance only when an employee is highly engaged in work, implying that self-efficacy does not have a direct effect on performance in contradiction to previous studies which suggest a direct effect of self-efficacy on performance. This study also renders support to the findings linking self-leadership and self-efficacy in the Indian context. This commonality in findings suggests that the relationship between self-leadership and self-efficacy is not influenced by cultural characteristics like individualism and collectivism.
The findings of the study affirm that work engagement is a strong predictor of desirable outcomes in organizations. If employees are high in work engagement, they are likely to learn and use the skills required to contribute to performance. The theoretical contribution of the study lies in providing an integrated model linking self-leadership to a performance by including self-efficacy and work engagement. Further, it also contributes to the cross-cultural literature in self-leadership as there are few studies on self-leadership in the eastern culture context. This study suggests that work experience does not have any impact on TSL – performance linkage and therefore, in managerial terms, all employees are likely to benefit from TSL training and interventions. This is counter-intuitive to the prevalent thinking that younger employees need more training in relative terms. Also, this study recommends that along with training in TSL skills, organizations also need to create supporting conditions to boost employee engagement to facilitate an effective transfer of TSL skills in the workplace.
To cite this article: Gupta, B., Singh, R., & Puri, S. (2019). Thought self-leadership and performance: Examining the role of work engagement. The Indian Journal of Industrial Relations, 55(1), 121-134.
About the Journal
The Indian Journal of Industrial Relations is an official publication of Shri Ram center for IR & HR, launched in the year 1964. The journal has been published uninterruptedly since then. It is subscribed by prominent research organizations and important universities in various countries in South East Asia, the West and the American Continent.
The Indian Journal of Industrial Relations: A Review of Economic and Social Development (IJIR) is devoted to the dissemination of knowledge for effective management of human resources and harmonious industrial relations. A quarterly in English, the journal enjoys a high academic reputation in India and elsewhere and is widely subscribed by government institutions, universities, and private sector organizations. A refereed journal its readership consists of academic scholars, policymakers, practicing managers and student community.
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