Date of release: Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Amanda ShantzPeople are happier and more productive when their leaders show strong morals, a clear vision and commitment to stakeholders, according to a new study co-produced by the University of Greenwich.

The growing importance of what is being described as 'purposeful leadership' for the modern workplace is outlined in a new report for the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development.

When modern managers display 'purposeful' behaviour, employees are less likely to quit. They are also more satisfied, willing to go the extra mile, better performers and less cynical, say researchers at the University of Greenwich, the University of Sussex, the IPA and CIPD.

Dr Amanda Shantz, Reader of Human Resources and Organisational Behaviour at Greenwich's Business School, is one of the co-authors. She says: "If organisations are serious about acting on the rhetoric of business purpose, and are to invest in achievement of their purpose, they have to reconsider the ways they select, develop and assess leaders.

"The traditional focus on leader behaviours only goes so far as to develop their ability to perform in a role. Instead, what is required is a development of the whole person, while accepting that it is impossible to mould all individuals into a uniform model of morals and ethics.

"The real challenge is not in trying to achieve a perfect match between leaders' and organisational values, but in ensuring that they complement each other in ways that best suit organisational circumstances at a given time.

"This includes supporting leaders to successfully recognise and negotiate the differences between what they stand for and what the business intends to achieve, without detriment to the individual leader or the company's operations."

Not much is known about what causes purposeful leadership or what impact it has – this new study is an attempt to fill this gap.

Professor Catherine Bailey, from the University of Sussex, adds: "Our study shows that the modern workplace is as much a battle for hearts and minds as it is one of rules and duties. People respond to leaders who care not just about themselves but wider society, who have strong morals and ethics, who behave with purpose."

Purposeful leadership: what is it, what causes it, and does it matter? is published on the CIPD website.

Dr Shantz is a member of the university's Department of Human Resources and Organisational Behaviour. Her work has been published in several peer-reviewed academic journals, including Human Relations, Human Resource Management and the International Journal of Human Resource Management.

Story by Public Relations

Notes for Editors
The research involved case studies in five organisations in different sectors, referred to in the report by the pseudonyms BuildCo, CareCharity, GovDep, PoliceOrg and RetailCo. The research team received completed surveys from 1,033 followers and matched surveys from their 524 leaders, and conducted 46 interviews and 16 focus groups involving 79 participants. They also surveyed a representative sample of the UK working population through the CIPD's quarterly Employee Outlook survey.